Peel Ports has announced the name of its new multi-million-pound bridge at the Port of Sheerness after calling upon the local community for help.
The 230m long structure, which will span the length of Brielle Way, will be named Wildfire Bridge in honour of the area’s naval history.
David Brown, retired Tug Master and Operations Manager put the name forward and it was selected as the overall winner from a shortlist of three following a public vote. He will now officially open the bridge when construction finishes later this year.
The name references HMS Wildfire III, the British naval shore establishment forming part of the Sheerness Base, and the HMS Wildfire, which coordinated smaller ships that sailed for Dunkirk in 1940 as part of the historic rescue mission during WWII.
The final two names to make the shortlist where Blue Town Bridge, in reference to neighbouring Blue Town, and Samuel Pepys Bridge, after the former naval administrator and historical diary writer.
David said: “I’m absolutely honoured that my name was chosen as the overall winner of the public vote. I’m really interested in the history of the local area, and with the recent Wildfire III parade this month, it was a fitting suggestion.
“Not many people are aware of the role HMS Wildfire played in the rescue operation to Dunkirk in WWII. Hopefully the new name will help more people remember the historic events that took place so many years ago.”
The newly named Wildfire Bridge represents an investment of £3 million from Peel Ports. It
will connect the current port estate at Sheerness to Peel Ports’ new Wellmarsh development - a state-of-the-art logistics hub on the former Thamesteel site.
Wellmarsh forms part of Peel Ports’ multi-million-pound Masterplan for growth at Sheerness and will create around 200 new jobs in the area over the coming years.
Paul Barker, Port Director London Medway said: “Wildfire Bridge is the perfect name to honour the naval history and heritage of the area, and we are excited to officially announce this to the community.
“We had some excellent nominations and it was hard to pick just three for the final shortlist. All the names were great but we are confident that the public have made the right choice.
“The bridge is a major part of our 20-year Masterplan for growth at Sheerness. It will allow port vehicles to move safely and securely between the port estate and the new Wellmarsh site, improving access for customers and reducing port traffic on public roads.
“We recognise that finding the appropriate name for the new bridge is a matter of considerable interest locally. It was therefore absolutely right that people of the Isle of Sheppey had the final say on the identity of this important project.”
To honour the new name, Peel Ports has made a donation to the Queenborough & District Naval Ensign Association. Each year, the Association hold the Wildfire III Parade and Memorial service, which commemorates the Royal Navy’s former base at Sheerness.
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