John Crockford-Hawley column: A Bridge Too Far?

Hildesheim opening Weston bridge in January 2020.

Hildesheim opening Weston bridge in January 2020. - Credit: John Crockford-Hawley

by John Crockford-Hawley

Do you know where one might find Weston Bridge? Not in our Weston, or in any other Weston, nor even in England.

Weston’s a common Saxon name derived from west and place. Super is Latin indicative of being above something and mare is the Latin sea, which we now pronounce as though ‘twere a female horse. It’s West place-above-sea.

St John’s Church is on the exact spot where for around 700 years Weston’s village church stood until modernisers did their replacement thing in 1824. Why there? Because it’s just high enough to be above flood level. Coastlines have been changing for millennia and there’s reasonable evidence to believe the sea regularly lapped around today’s Blakehay.

Our Saxon and medieval forebears weren’t ignorant yokels. They knew the destructive power of tide and wave and consequently built to best advantage and the name, as written today, has been with us since at least 1348.

Miami has a suburb named Weston but you’ll not find our bridge over there. I gave a live radio interview once to Florida’s Weston because they’d heard our ‘city’ was keen to restore its Art Deco heritage (we had just embarked upon painting The Centre opposite the Town Hall).

I’m not sure Americans get irony but I did my best to compare our miniscule venture into the glitzy jazzy 1930s with their sumptuous over-the-top Art Deco beachside. They invited me to visit but, not convinced Weston ratepayers would have found a fact finding freebie anything more than a frolic, I stayed put.

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So where is this Weston Bridge? Hildesheim’s the answer. We have their bridge by Weston Station and a pre-Pandemic couple of years ago, the then mayor Cllr Canniford, today’s mayor Cllr Clayton and I had a few days exploring our German twin town and whilst there were called on to open Weston-super-Mare Bridge and North Somerset Bridge in a 2:1 bridging victory to the host team.

I’m word restricted so will write more about this wonderful Lower Saxony cathedral city on another occasion but in the meantime thoroughly recommend you visit Weston Museum’s new display dedicated to the Weston Hildesheim Exchange.