On the 26th October 1972, the A329M bridge over the Loddon collapsed, while under construction. It tragically resulted in three deaths and ten injuries.
In honour of those involved, Woodley Town Council and Earley Town Council planted a Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus) tree in Dinton Pastures, near the cafe.
Earley Town Mayor, Cllr Tahir Maher and Woodley Town Deputy Mayor, Cllr Kay Gilder, attended the memorial to unveil the tree and plaques.
Cllr Kay Gilder said: “I am privileged to represent the people of Woodley today alongside the people of Earley as represented by the Earley Town Mayor to honour and remember those who lost their lives, were injured and the impact it had on their families and the community. This tree represents a lasting memorial to all involved.”
“We are here, on this sad occasion, to remember three lives lost and ten injured on 24th October 1972, 50 years ago. The incident resulted from a collapse of ‘falsework’. These are plywood constructions into which concrete was poured. A construction of the size of the Loddon Viaduct, which was a substantial structure holding many tonnes of concrete. The practice of these large construction sites at the time allowed the sub-contractors to perform their tasks without any oversight from the main contractor.
“The consequence of this disaster was the ‘Bragg Report’, which introduced a responsibility for these construction sites to a named engineer working for the main contractor. This provided a hierarchy of responsibility and ensured that the responsible engineer agreed upon designs for falsework. This made the disaster a landmark in health & safety on large construction sites,” said Cllr Maher.
“The site of the disaster is exactly where the three civic parishes of Earley, Woodley and Winnersh meet. Before this tree-planting event, there has been no memorial to this tragedy,” he added.
Kay and Tahir were joined by Cllr Carol Jewell from Woodley Town Council, Cllr Nicola Brock, Cllr Alison Newton, Cllr Keith Yabsley, and Cllr Al Neal from Earley Town Council.