Having served in World War II and the Korean War, among other conflicts, HMS Belfast was finally retired from service in the early Seventies. It has since become an iconic London landmark situated as it is on the South bank of the Thames just up-river from Tower Bridge.
The original, ageing pedestrian gangway that linked the ship to the shore partially collapsed in November 2011. Littlehampton Welding were engaged to fabricate and site it’s brand new replacement. Not only did it have to be ready for the start of the Olympic Games but more specifically an onboard wedding had been arranged for the day after the alloted date of installation in May 2012. Working to this tight deadline the resulting bridge was described by the cruiser’s Director, Phil Read, as: “a fabulous feat of engineering”. The major difficulty was that it had to be able to rise and fall with the tide and as he said, “it’s something that has to be constructed very carefully”. The problem was overcome by having hinged connections on both the quay and the ship sides of the walkway.
Transportation to the site was not made easy due to the 2.5 metre width and 29 metre length of the steel bridge. Navigation through the narrow, busy streets of London was made possible by having a bolted connection mid span.