Location: Howrah, West Bengal 700001, India
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/226GRfpUaMDXAah1A
The beautiful Rabindra Setu which connects Kolkata to Howrah has today become an icon of Bengal’s history, culture, and tourist attractions. Popularly known as the Howrah Bridge, it was constructed in 1943 and till date, sees a massive amount of traffic on a daily basis. In this article, we’ve tried to gather all the information about the Howrah Bridge and its history for your perusal. While some of these are well-known points, we promise a few fascinating tidbits that you probably didn’t know before reading this.
What was the first plan and steps of the Bridge?
- Then in the year 1855. At that time the English trade and commerce flourished on both sides of the Hooghly River. Gradually new factories sprang up on both sides of the river.
- For the sake of growing business, there was a need to build a bridge to connect the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah on both sides of the Hooghly River.
- Negotiating that all the responsibility for the construction of the bridge will not be directly in the hands of the government. A trust is created because the government does not have full responsibility.
- Under this trust, work began in 1870 on the design of the famous engineer Sir Brad Ford Leslie’s 1526-foot-long and 72-foot-wide platoon place bridge. The construction of this platoon bridge was completed in 184. But in the same year a terrible storm came and caused a lot of damage in several places of the bridge.
- In addition, the biggest problem of this floating bridge is the arrangement of ships and steamers. Because ships and steamers would go through the middle of the bridge.
- The bridge was closed for a long time, causing heavy traffic jams. As a result, the British government felt the need to rebuild the new bridge. What was the story behind the construction of that new bridge, i.e. Howrah Bridge or Rabindra Bridge?
- Following the earlier decision, a committee was formed in 1908 under the leadership of RS Hyde, an engineer of the East India Railway, George Cott, an engineer of the East India Railway, and W. B. McCave, the chief engineer of the Calcutta Corporation.
- After analyzing the situation, facilities and requirements of the time, the newly formed committee first decided to build a cantilever bridge instead of building a floating bridge over the river. It can be said that the original beginning of the construction of Rabindra Bridge or Howrah Bridge started from here.
History of The Howrah Bridge
- In 1870 The Calcutta Port Trust was founded and entrusted, via the Howrah Bridge Act of 1871, with the construction and maintenance of the Bridge.It was a Pontoon Bridge which connected the two areas that was built in 1874 following a planned contract signed with Sir Bradford Leslie. At first the parts of it built in England and Later shipped to India to be assembled.
- At first the newly made bridge over the Hooghly river connected Calcutta which was opened for traffic on the 17th of October in 1874. It’s length was 465.7 meters and width was 19 meters, with 2.1 meter wide pavements on both side.
- To make suitable for passing the steamers and other water transport the bridge would be unfastened periodically. After few years, the bridge was enlightened by using attractive electric lamp posts.
- The problem, was that a bridge like that could not bear the load of heavy traffic and rough weather. As a result by the flowing of the century the authority feel the crying need of making a new suitable bridge and the Port Commissioners began seeking other options.
What was the next planning and commissioning history of the Howrah Bridge?
- Several plans were made, and different types of bridges were suggested before making Howrah Bridge as we come to know it today was constructed.
- A committee was set up in 1906 to look into the high traffic requirements that the new bridge would have to fulfil every kind of pressures. Based on the report, the committee finally came to a conclusion that a floating bridge would serve the requirements best. Then, many tenders were extended for the design and construction of the bridge, and a prize amount of GBP 3,000 was announced for whoever was the winner.
- This initial plan of action was cornered by the First World War but it was mortally resumed in the year 1917.
- In 1921, a team of engineers, led by Sir R. N. Mukherjee and dubbed as the ‘Mukherjee Committee’, was set up to look into the construction of the Howrah Bridge. It was a matter of joy that when this team referred the matter to Sir Basil Mott, at that time he suggested a single span arch bridge to be built.
- In 1922, the ‘Mukherjee Committee’ submitted its report to the newly set up New Howrah Bridge Commission. This report led to the creation of the New Howrah Bridge Act. In 1926, the committee recommended a new suspension bridge of a particular type to be constructed. Alongside of the construction, came the varied requirements and laws with a view to acquiring land, employing many, and levying taxes for maintenance. It was the Howrah Bridge Act which ensured all these.
- Later, in 1930, yet another team, the well-known Goode Committee was formed to look into the feasibility of constructing a pier bridge between the two districts. Based on their solicitations, a noted kind of suspension bridge was designed by the chief draftsman of M/s. Rendell, Palmer and Triton, namely, Mr Walton. The British company, Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company Ltd was secured the contract for the entire work. Many global tenders were soon floated, and a local organization named The Braithwaite Burn & Jessop Construction Company Limited was bestowed the status of sub-contractors for the steelwork.
- The construction was began by the year 1936 as well as the new Howrah Bridge was finally constructed in 1942.The new bridge was opened on the 3rd of February, 1943.
What was the World Wars Effect on the Howrah Bridge?
- The history of the Howrah Bridge is indirectly connected to the World Wars. Though the plans were made from the beginning of the 1900s, the beginning of the construction process was closed on account of the First World War. However, it was partially renewed for a time in 1917.
- The suspensions gave time for other committees to be made and further interchanges were made to the planned bridge. As we entitled earlier, the ‘Mukherjee Committee’ came into being in 1921 and was tasked with looking into the matter. It was based on their work that the New Howrah Bridge Act was passed.
- But the suspensions on account of war were far from over. Based on the Goode Committee’s recommendations in the 1930s ,many global tenders were floated. The lowest bid accepted was from a German company which was not given the contract due to escalating animosity between Germany and Great Britain at that time. Instead of it, a local company was given the contract and construction started soon after.
- The war also affected the materials which were used for the construction of the bridge. Though 26,000 tons of steel were needed for the construction, England was not able to give more than 3000 tons as the rest had to be diverted for war efforts. The Tata Steel then agreed to supply the rest and developed high tension steel known as Tiscom for the Howrah bridge.
- Though at that time there was a big threat from Japan, the construction was soon ongoing. There was also no ceremonial opening of the bridge because the government dread of an attack by the Japanese.
What was the new name of the Bridge and when did it changed?
The name of the bridge was officially changed to Rabindra Setu in 1985 after the Bengali Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. To this day, however, the name ‘Howrah Bridge’ is more popular and used by the common people in Calcutta.
How is the Bridge today?
- At present Howrah Bridge is a famous bridge in Kolkata. It is often called the gateway to Kolkata and for good reason it connects the city with the Howrah Railway Junction. At the other end of the bridge is the colorful chaos of the Mallick Ghat Flower Market.
- The Howrah Bridge now carries about 100,000 vehicles and more than 1.5 million pedestrians daily through the world’s busiest cantilever bridge.
- If you are around at night, you should definitely come and see this colorful bridge.
- This bridge can be seen in many books or movies. For example, the films of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak featured the famous Howrah Bridge.
- The bridge has been held up to the test of time, but not without injuries. The bridge of Kolkata Port Trust has been maintained and protected from damage and efforts have been made to repair it in case of any storm, weather or damage.
FAQ behind the Hawrah Bridge:
Que: Hawrah Bridge is located on which river?
Ans: Hooghly river.
Que: Howrah Bridge connects which two cities?
Ans: It connects two cities of Hawrah and Kolkata.
Que: How is the design of the Bridge?
Ans: Suspension type balanced Cantilever and truss arch.
Que: What is the material of the bridge?
Ans: It is made of 2000 tons of steel, mostly tensile alloy known as Tiscom which was supplied by Tata Steel. The whole project was considered a pioneer wonder in the construction of the bridge in India .
Que: What is the total length of the Bridge?
Ans: 705 m (2,313.0 ft)
Que: What is the width of the Bridge?
Ans: 71 ft (21.6 m) with two footpaths of 15 ft
(4.6 m) on either side.
Que: What is the height of the Bridge?
Ans: 82 m (269.0 ft)
Que: What is the total length of the longest span of the Bridge?
Ans: 1,500 ft (457.2 m)
Que: Who is the designer of the Hawrah Bridge?
Que: Who constructed the Bridge?
Ans: Briathwaite, Burn and Jessop Construction.
Que: When did the construction start?
Ans: In 1936
Que: When did the construction end?
Ans: In 1942
Que: When did the bridge open?
Ans: 3 February 1943.
Que: How much it cost to build the Bridge?
Ans: It cost about INR 25 million to build.
Que: What was the first vehicle to run over the completed Howrah Bridge?
Ans: The first vehicle to run over the completed Howrah Bridge was a tram.
Que: When did the bridge closed to trams traffic?
Ans: In 1993, the bridge was closed to trams traffic and the route was closed. The main reason behind this is that the bridge will not be able to handle the heavy load of traffic.
Que: How many vehicles and pedestrians carries it now?
Ans: According to the 1946 census, about 27,400 vehicles, 121,100 pedestrians and 2,997 cattle pass through the Howrah Bridge every day. This number has increased even more in the last few years. A 2007 report put the number of vehicles at about 90,000.The Howrah Bridge now carries about 100,000 vehicles and more than 1.5 million pedestrians daily.
Que: Why the bridge is unique from other bridges?
Ans: Another feature that sets it apart from other bridges is that the bridge was made entirely by riveting and has no nuts or bolts.
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