New Osney: It’s a Bridge too Far

EXCLUSIVE Some of our more elderly readers might have seen the film A Bridge too Far (1977), all about the failure of the Brits in the Netherlands during the Second World War – Scottish 90 year old Sean Connery was the star. Some of you might also have seen the The Bridge at Remagen (1969), starring George Segal and Robert Vaughn. In the later film the Allies managed to save the Remagan bridge, I’ve been there myself in the 1970s, and even walked under it.

This tale is less dramatic than those two films, but does evoke both a Tale of Two Cities and Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

This is the tale of a broken bridge separating Osney Lane west in Oxford from Osney Lane east. Naturally, before the arrival of the railways this was one road that allowed people from the west to shop in the east. But now there is a broken footbridge which neither Network Rail nor Oxford City Council want to repair. I guess it would cost a lot of money.

The footbridge is dangerous to people of a certain age like me, but also dangerous to everyone using it. Network Rail said it might fix it, but it’s a big might because it claims the footbridge is not a right of way and might interfere with its plans, according to an FOI request Volesoft made here.

See the pictures and video below.

Oxford City Council, presented with the evidence, said it would either close it or repair it but that would come at a cost.

Paul Smith (BSc Hons), C.Build E MCABE, the Oxford City Council building support leader, penned this message to Tamasin Painter at Network Rail in mid-July marked “Urgent – Defective Steps to footbridge near Osney Lane, Oxford:

“…I must admit I am equally confused and disappointed by the findings of the Network Rail, structural engineer, that there are “no safety concerns” identified on inspection… the steps feel unsafe to use as they bounce on impact loading plus the the stair risers are missing in many places…”

Smith demanded a full email response from Network Rail by the 20th of July “regarding this urgent matter”.

He also said he would instruct Oxford City Council to carry out the work and get the money back from Network Rail. He said he would tell the council “to secure and prevent public access to the footbridge stairs until the necessary remedial works have been completed”. The emboldened words are Mr Smith’s.

In our human bodies – and authorities always deliver this analogy – there are arteries (main roads) and that if clots were to develop, could bring little cities and towns to an end. But the analogy is rubbish because veins inform arteries and arteries inform veins and blood informs the head and the heart and the rest of the body politic.

The bridge between Osney Lane east and Osney Lane west is an important vein. Below we present material assembled by the local community showing that stupid clots haven’t realised this might really damage the body politic. I’ve had a triple bypass, as loyal readers know, and it wasn’t much fun – those clots.  Crossing over the bridge is definitely a bridge too far.



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