Our Sam Thompson Landmark Bridge Opens

The new Sam Thompson Bridge was officially opened yesterday afternoon by First Minister Peter Robinson, Lord Mayor of Belfast Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Sam Thompson family members Abigail Dunn and Jackie Maguire. They, along with other family members and project funders were amongst the first to cross this landmark bridge.

(First Minister Peter Robinson, Lord Mayor of Belfast Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Sam Thompson family members Abigail Dunn and Jackie Maguire open the Sam Thompson Bridge)

Local people, school children and workers from local businesses all flocked to the bridge. There was a run over it, a cycle over it, dogs walked over it, birthdays were celebrated on it, with all keen to be part of the celebrations on this historic day.

The bridge opening represents a huge milestone for the £35 million Connswater Community Greenway (CCG) project, one of just three Living Landmark projects across the UK to secure funding from the Big Lottery Fund. The project, which represents a huge investment in the regeneration of the city, is also funded by Belfast City Council, the Department for Social Development and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

This is the first new bridge to be installed in Belfast for many years and it is hoped that as a dedicated pedestrian and cycle bridge it will encourage more active and healthy lifestyles. It will provide a critical link for pedestrians and cyclists between Victoria Park in east Belfast and the Harbour Estate and will also open up access to Titanic Quarter and the city centre for residents, visitors and commuters. As part of the wider CCG project it will also provide access to green and open spaces.

Attendees at the opening of the bridge yesterday also saw some of the other work which has been undertaken in the park to date including flood alleviation embankments, new trim trail equipment and new paths. When the park is completed there will also be new lighting, street furniture, an eco- trail and a new look out area.

First Minister Peter Robinson said, “I am delighted to be part of this landmark event for the Connswater Community Greenway project. It is a hugely worthwhile project which will open up vast opportunities within the east of the city and the greater Belfast area, encouraging more people to walk and cycle.”

Sam Thompson’s relative Abigail Dunn said, “It was a great privilege for me to represent the family in the opening of the Sam Thompson Bridge. Naming the bridge after Sam Thompson is a fitting tribute to my Uncle Sam in recognition of his many achievements as writer, playwright, trade unionist and friend. It is fantastic that he has been recognised in this way.”

Wendy Langham CCG Programme Manager, “I am really delighted with the support we have received for the opening of the Sam Thompson Bridge today. So many local people turned up today to help us celebrate the bridge opening. Thank you to everyone who supported us and helped make this a truly memorable day. We are glad to have reached this significant milestone in the Connswater Community Greenway project.”

Thanks to everyone who came down to Victoria Park yesterday you helped us beat our target of 2014 people - with a huge 2287 people over the bridge!