London’s historic Blackfriars Bridge officially reopens

The Blackfriars Bridge reopening was met with great fanfare Saturday following an extensive 13-month rehabilitation process. Christian D'Avino / 980 CFPL

The oldest river crossing in London, Ont., is officially back in business following an extensive restoration.

Hundreds of Londoners turned up to witness the reopening of the Blackfriars Bridge, which included a parade across the historic structure.

“The excitement surrounding the opening of this bridge is truly palpable,” said mayor-elect Ed Holder.

“It’s a true testament to the history of London, and I couldn’t be happier for the community of Blackfriars and the city as a whole.”

For some, their connection to the bridge is much more personal.

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“This bridge has been apart of our family history since my great-grandfather helped to build it many, many years ago,” said Londoner Edward Avery.

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The great-grandfather of cousins Edward Avery (left) and Elma Fledcher (right) helped build the bridge back in 1875. Christian D'Avino / 980 CFPL

“I think the city has lost so much of its history so I’m very glad the restoration of the bridge will allow Londoners to not just appreciate this bridge but also use it,” he said.

Blackfriars Bridge was erected in 1875 and is the only wrought-iron bowstring truss bridge in Canada still used for vehicular traffic.

The City of London also says it’s the longest cast- and wrought-iron bowstring span in North America.

“I think the bridge is almost a piece of art,” Avery said.

“It shows how London developed and ensures that everybody has the right of movement within their own city.”

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The $8.6-million, 13-month rehabilitation project aimed to strengthen and rehabilitate the bridge.

Final landscaping and paint touch-ups are scheduled to be completed in spring 2019.

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