Scale Lane Bridge, Hull. Under construction 2012

Scale Lane Bridge

Scale Lane Bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the river Hull on the east side of the city. It can rotate on a single pivot a bit like a pinball flipper to enable boats to navigate up and down the river. It is unique because pedestrians can remain on it when it moves. It is a striking curved shape with a spine running down the middle and a circular retail space at the west side over the pivot point.

Scale Lane Bridge, Hull. Under construction 2012

Scale Lane Bridge, Hull. Under construction, 2012

I am not from Hull and until 2010 I had never visited the city, but the city has become a key point of my practice and the bridge a key component of my regular visits. When staying overnight I have always stayed in the Premier Inn on the other side of the bridge (which opened in 2012), and whenever possible had a room on the 12th floor overlooking the bridge and the city.

For my first few visits the bridge was mostly built but not commissioned and I used the Myton Bridge (awful walk over a high up dual carriage way) into the city. I was therefore very pleased when the bridge was opened and a delightful walk through the old town to have my morning coffee in Queen Victoria Square (home of the Maritime Museum and the Ferens Art Gallery). Actually sometimes in the winter it was a bloody awful walk nearly getting blown off my feet and very wet. The bridge, I should mention has two paths, one flat for cyclists and one with steps with the spine acting as a useful windbreak. It also has a very essential gritty non-slip surface.

Wedding Party on Scale Lane Bridge, Hull

Wedding Party on Scale Lane Bridge

During my residency at Burton Constable Hall near Hull I stayed in the hotel quite a lot and as I didn’t need to be there til 10 I would walk into the city over the bridge, and have a coffee and a ponder, which became a great working routine. In all that time I never got to travel on the bridge when it was moving. I had a good view of it from my room swinging a couple of time though. And one night in the summer a wedding party let off balloons and set off some fireworks from nearby waste ground.

And then in July 2016 I did get to stand on it when it was moving, when I was naked with a few hundred other naked people. That gritty non-slip surface was agony on bare feet.
At the beginning of January 2017 I visited Hull to see the Made In Hull light installations and used the bridge. Strange booming noises turned out to be a man hitting the bridge with a large percussion mallet. I got talking to him (as I do) and it turned out he was Jonathon McDowell on of the architects who designed the bridge, which I told him I loved. You can imagine my delight when he told me that they had been inspired by the skeletal structure of whales when they were designing it. He subsequently sent me some of the design drawings showing the internal structure and I saw its cetacean similarities. And that made me love it all the more.

Scale Lane Bridge, Hull. Pre-commissioning 2013

Scale Lane Bridge, Hull. Pre-commissioning, 2013