The new landmark bridge is to be named after local shipyard worker and playwright Sam Thompson

We asked you to "Name the Bridge and you have chosen "Sam Thompson"!

The ‘Name the Bridge’ campaign was launched in June 2013 when the public put forward their bridge name suggestions. A naming panel looked at hundreds of suggestions and shortlisted five of which the public was asked to vote for their favourite. 44% of the public votes received were for Sam Thompson, with Avalon in 2nd place, receiving 29% of the vote.

(The "Sam Thompson" bridge being assembled on Airport Road)

Sam Thompson was a local, East Belfast man who worked in the Shipyard. As a trade unionist and playwright he was concerned with social issues and the effects these had on the people of Belfast. The regard by which Sam Thompson is held in Belfast can be measured by the overwhelming support for this name throughout the ‘Name the Bridge’ process.

Anne McMurray, Chair of the Name the Bridge Panel said
“The panel had a really tough decision in shortlisting five names that were appropriate and relevant to the site of the new bridge. The panel has been overwhelmed by the volume of interest in this campaign from the public. We would like to thank everyone for taking part, both in submitting name entries and in voting. We are pleased to announce that as a result of the votes cast by the public that the proposed name is the Sam Thompson Bridge.”

The name was this afternoon approved by Belfast City Council’s Parks and Leisure Committee and will go to the main council’s monthly meeting at the beginning of November for ratification.

Councillor Gareth McKee, chairman of the committee, said: “The regard by which Sam Thompson is held in Belfast can be measured by the overwhelming public support for this name throughout the ‘Name the Bridge’ process.

“This decision, coupled with the installation of the bridge at the weekend, is great news for the east of the city and we look forward to celebrating this initiative and the memory of Sam Thompson at the official opening when all of the work is complete.”

The Connswater Community Greenway project, developed by the East Belfast Partnership, is one of three ‘Living Landmark’ projects in the UK and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council and the Department for Social Development and represents a £35 million investment in the east of the city, connecting people and places by creating a 9km linear park from the Castlereagh Hills to Belfast Harbour Estate. 

Joanne McDowell, the Big Lottery Fund’s NI Director said, “We are delighted that work has begun on the Connswater Community Greenway project. This is the only Northern Ireland project to receive Living Landmark funding and this bridge symbolises the start of a significant investment in Belfast. The aim of Living Landmark programme is to transform, revitalise and regenerate communities and I am looking forward to watching this project develop and transform the local community.”

Plans for the bridge were unveiled earlier this year as work in Victoria and Orangefield Parks commenced. The first phase of the project works is carried out by Maghera-based BSG Civil Engineering Ltd. The next phase of construction includes the construction of a new civic square at Holywood Arches and is due to begin spring 2014.

This steel bowstring bridge cost approximately half a million pounds to construct and has been finished with LED lighting that can change colour. It is anticipated that the bridge will be open to the public by the end of the year. Lord Mayor, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, said: “The Connswater Community Greenway will transform the lives of people in Belfast; it will connect communities and will provide a valuable and much needed resource to those living in the surrounding areas. Belfast City Council is delighted to be working with the East Belfast Partnership to deliver the project as part of the wider Belfast City Council Investment Programme. Investment in physical and capital projects is needed to create a modern infrastructure for the city and its people.”

Thank you to everyone who took the time to put a submission in and to vote! The bridge is now being assembled on Airport Road, check it out in the Gallery