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Bridge 'may be killer'
Death Fear Sparks Protest

The dangerous A6 railway bridge
The photograph used in the Evening Telegraph in 1980 to
show the danger to pedestrians using the bridge

"Bridge may be killer"was the headline in the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph on 31st July 1976.

It went on: "Pedestrians take their lives in their hands when they cross the narrow A6 railway bridge at Burton Latimer," Kettering's Road Safety Committee was told.

Councillor John Meads warned the committee there could be a 'terrible sandwich' if two articulated lorries met on the bridge while a pedestrian was crossing it. He urged the county council to provide a footbridge across the railway line to eliminate the danger.

The present bridge is only 18ft wide with very little space left when two extra large vehicles cross. The United Counties Bus Company are also worried because buses often meet on the bridge.

Mr. Meads told the ET that a scheme to replce the bridge had been superceded by the A1-M1 link road proposals
The county surveyor's department will consider a footbridge scheme - but the cost could be a serious problem in the current grim economic climate. There have been several near-misses in the last few years and a cyclist was killed there some four years ago.

Mr Meads added: "If there happens to be a pedestrian there when two of the larger lorries go over the bridge, it would be a tragedy."

"Death Fear Sparks Protest" was the headline four years later on 26th March 1980 after yet another death on the bridge. The article goes on to say: "Angry residents in Burton Latimer are demanding action to stop a dangerous road bridge claiming any more lives.
One person has died and four more were injured in a crash at the hump-backed bridge on the A6 last month. Now people who live near the bridge and members of Burton Latimer Council say it is dangerous and want something done immediately.
But the Department of Transport, which is responsible for the road, says nothing is likely to be done for a long time as the bridge is in the corridor for the A1/M1 link.
One of the residents in Barton Road, Mr. John Atkins, said: "I have known that bridge for about 40 years. It is dangerous. there is no footpath. "It is a main road and we have this piddling little bridge. There is not enough room for two cars and a pedestrian to pass in safety. "There have been many accidents over the years. If you look at the fence on either side it is in a bad state.
"That is not the result of pedestrians, but cars and lorries hitting it. That section of road only has one national speed limit on it and you can hear motorcyclists almost take off over it. They don't stand a chance if the road is greasy."
Mr. Stanley Smith who lives across the road reckons people would walk to Burton Latimer if the bridge was safer, but at the moment they dare not. It is not safe for pedestrians and it is not safe for cars, but at least you can go carefully in a car."
Housewife Mrs. Nettie Hicks feels the same way: "There is no footpath and it is very narrow. I feel safer going over by car, but even then it is not very safe. I reckon something should be done. it's not safe to walk across. I have tried it and had to run like mad to get over."
The bridge has been discussed at the last two meetings of Burton Latimer Council. One of them, on February 5, was the same night as the fatal accident. The chairman of the council, Cllr Peter Johnson said at this month's meeting: "The quicker we can get rid of the bridge the better. there is a need for more safety for pedestrians."
Cllr Christopher Groome said part of the problem had been flooding on the approach, but that had now been cleared. As well as pressing the department of Transport for action, members agreed to write to the County Road Safety Committee to see if the police could keep an eye open for flooding and pass any incidents on to the county council.
A spokesman
for the Department of Transport said the embankment would be widened to provide a footpath up to the bridge. But the corridor for the A1/M1 link went along the disused railway line under the bridge and nothing will be done until those plans were more definite.

Click here to read about a 1935 accident on the bridge

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