From The Essex Chronicle, Friday 5th November, 1915.
Considerable interest was manifested on Friday afternoon at Wickford, the occasion being the opening of the new bridge, which has just been completed. The large attendance included Alderman Beal, Chairman of the Highways Committee, Mr Sheldon, County Surveyor, Mr Shilton, Chairman of the RDC, Mr Harris, Distict Surveyor, and Messrs Heslop, Patmore, Steere, English, Arthur, Halstead and Carter (Parish Councillors).
Mr. P Sheldon in opening the proceedings said the bridge they were opening was a steel girder bridge on brick and stone parapets. It had a waterway of 26 feet 6 inches and a roadway over it of 36 feet. The whole line of road had been improved, thanks mainly to the generosity of James Gigney, who had given whatever land was required for the purpose. The cost of the bridge was £1,316.
The old bridge that had been taken down was built in the year 1773 and the stone recording this fact has been preserved and has been built into the new structure. Whether there had been a bridge there prior to that date he was unable to ascertain, but history told them that in the reign of Edward the Confessor there was a ford at the spot, and he assumed the ford had existed until the bridge was built in 1773, as they had found no piles in the river bed. ALDERMAN BEAL then performed the opening ceremony, severing the white ribbon with scissors.
Mr Patmore’s taxi was the first to cross the bridge after the ceremony.
Mr Heslop proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Beal and said that the new structure was badly needed, and he felt deeply indebted to Mr Gigney for giving the necessary land. The new bridge was the best improvement of its kind that had been made during his stay in the place. Mr Shilton seconding said it was a much needed improvement, and he hoped when the war was over other points would get looked into. Ald. Beal having acknowledged the vote of thanks, the National Anthem terminated the interesting proceedings.
A meat tea followed at the Castle Hotel, Mr Heslop presiding. Those speaking on the toast list were Ald. Beal, The Chairman, Mr Stilton, Mr Sheldon, Mr Gigney and the Rev. Bryant.”
Can the stone of the earlier bridge still be seen, if so could someone take a photo of it, thank you?