Correspondence file relating to the Opening Ceremony of the Benue Bridge, Nigeria in 1932.
The bridge was opened by Donald Cameron (British Colonial Governor of Nigeria) on 24 May 1932. The span of the bridge is 800 m with a distance between abutments of 790 m. It cost nearly ₤1,000,000, and it was constructed by Sir William Arrol & Co. When built, it was the longest bridge in Africa. The first piece of correspondence is dated 8 March 1932 and the final letter is dated 9 June 1933.
Two letters dated 16 January 1931 and 13 March 1931 regarding tolerances associated with the riveting are also included in the file.
A description of the event by Mrs E Arrol Hunter is transcribed in the notes below.
Extract from letter from the file from Mrs E. Arrol Hunter, dated 24th May 1932, re BENUE BRIDGE.
Well, the Bridge is now open and everything went off very well – Our train pulled up to the Bridge head North side at 10.45 a.m. and the Governor alighted at 10 o’clock and inspected the Guard of Honour then the firm’s staff and others were presented – The Governor then walked to the ribbon which he cut, and declared the Bridge open, after which Lady Cameron, Mrs. Bland and I got on to the engine and at the special request of Lady Cameron and the Governor I drove the train across the Bridge and broke another ribbon at the other end. We then alighted on a special platform where there were about 2,000 natives gathered. It was a marvellous sight.
Mrs. Bland and I then went back to our coach and changed for the lunch, then we drove to the Club and saw the Governor addressing the Chiefs – Eric just wished we had Gordon’s cine with us as the colours were wonderful. I do hope the photographs we have taken will come out. It was lovely and wonderfully cool up till lunch time. Eric and I received the guests in the billiard room which had been turned into a reception room and was really beautifully done. Cocktails were served here and then we all went in to lunch. I sat at the centre of the top table with the Governor on my right and the Lieut. Governor (Acting) of the Northern Province on my left. Next to him was Lady Cameron then Eric. The lunch was excellent and I enclose the Menu Card. After lunch Eric made his speech (and I may add very well, although he read most of it). The Governor then replied and made a very good speech.
We then drove back to the train and left at 4.30. We go with the Governor as far as Rafanchan then from there we go to Joss and Kano and get back to Lagos on Monday.
For a picture of the cutting of the ribbon at the opening ceremony see https://canmore.org.uk/collection/554727
For a picture of the bridge under construction see https://canmore.org.uk/collection/554726.
For a picture of the local gathering see https://canmore.org.uk/collection/554724.