Bridgwater’s Squibbers Way is now open following a spectacular squibbing display.
Representatives from Somerset County Council, main contractor Whitemountain, Bridgwater Carnival and other guests gathered tonight to officially open the new link road.
A squibbing team kindly led by Bridgwater Carnival took to their positions on the new Crossways Bridge to dazzle spectators with a sparkling 90 second firework display.
This was then followed by a procession of illuminated cyclists from The Bridgwater Way and the Guy Fawkes Carnival cart, which became the first vehicle to travel the length of the new road.
Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, who took part in the squibbing, said: “This was a fantastic occasion and a fantastic way to celebrate the opening of Squibbers Way.
“Squibbing is unique to Bridgwater and we’re thrilled to have been able to listen to the public and literally put squibbing on the map. This new road will make such a difference to so many across Bridgwater by taking lorries off Taunton Road.
“Huge thanks to our contractors Whitemountain, who have completed an extremely challenging engineering project to the very highest of standards and have also contributed greatly to the local community and economy while they’ve been working here.
“Thanks also to everyone at Bridgwater Carnival who gave up their time and expertise to put on this sparkling display and make tonight such a memorable occasion.”
Whitemountain’s Project Manager on Squibbers Way said: “The Whitemountain team have enjoyed delivering this intricate, complex and challenging Civil Engineering project. We are delighted to have transformed the town of Bridgwater by constructing two new bridges and a much needed access road to ease congestion for residents and businesses.
“Our project delivery team have been embraced by the local community and supported by local businesses suppliers. We have worked with and fundraised for many local charities such as The Brainwave Centre and Bridgwater Foodbank. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the town of Bridgwater for welcoming our team to the community, and enjoyed a professional working relationship with the Somerset County Council Team.”
Mike Crocker, President of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee, said “Our carnival and its associated activities continue to increase in popularity every year, and having a road named after our squibbing tradition is fantastic recognition.
“The fact the road was voted for and named by members of the public just goes to show how proud local people are of Bridgwater Carnival and its colourful history, and I would like to personally thank everybody who voted for Squibbers Way.”
Squibbers Way is the new £18.4 million road linking Marsh Lane to Parrett Way and was previously referred to as the Colley Lane Southern Access Road. It is designed to help ease congestion along Taunton Road and Broadway by providing an alternative route from the M5 for lorries serving the Colley Lane estate. The road also opens up brownfield land in the area for development, supporting the delivery of planned housing and employment land.
The name was chosen by the people of Bridgwater following a public vote earlier this year.
Now the road has opened, Somerset County Council will be keeping a close eye on traffic patterns across Bridgwater and making adjustments to traffic light controlled junctions where required to ensure they are operating as efficiently as possible.
The Bridgwater Way (www.thebridgwaterway.co.uk) is focused on helping to keep Bridgwater moving as the town goes through a period of significant growth and investment. By providing information, advice and tools people can choose the best times to travel and routes to use and even try travelling in a way that’s new to them.
More information and background about the Squibbers Way project can be found at www.clsar.co.uk and follow @TravelSomerset on Twitter for all the latest news and updates on roads and travel across Somerset.
- The £18.4m Colley Lane scheme is funded by EDF S106 contributions, housing developer S106 contributions, the DfT Productivity Investment Fund and Somerset County Council’s capital programme.
The first recorded evidence of squibbing in Bridgwater was back in 1716.
Nowadays, in the region of 150 “Squibbers” are involved with squibbing on Carnival night, typically members of the Carnival clubs. The Squibbers line the Bridgwater High Street after the carnival procession has finished (in a line of two wide), and all light their squibs at the same time.
Because of their size, the squibs are tied to poles (coshes) and, once lit, are held above the squibber’s head until the firework extinguishes.
The Squibber holds the squib at arms’ length above their head with the firework facing toward the sky. The effect is bright light being fired into the air along the road in one great long trail of fire.
The Squib itself is a large firework, strapped to a cosh (a solid block of wood which is attached to a large pole).
Squibs were originally made in homes throughout the town, but are now produced to a secret formula by leading firework manufacturers, especially for Bridgwater Carnival.
In 1929, more 2,000 squibs were ignited during the course of carnival night.