A sparkling event is being planned to celebrate the opening of Bridgwater’s new Squibbers Way in early December.
Squibbers Way is the new £18.4m road linking Marsh Lane to Parrett Way and was named by the people of Bridgwater following a public vote. The project was previously referred to as the Colley Lane Southern Access Road and will help ease congestion along Taunton Road and Broadway as well as opening up brownfield land for development.
Somerset County Council is working with Bridgwater Carnival and main contractor Whitemountain to organise a spectacular mini squibbing display to celebrate completion which will take place after Carnival season on Wednesday 11 December.
Before the new road is opened, Whitemountain are carrying out some additional works in the area to minimise the need for future disruption and potential closures of Squibbers Way.
The extended scheme now includes works to strengthen the embankment of the watercourse near Marsh Lane and works to upgrade and extend a footpath along the River Parrett, providing a better link between Hamp and the Colley Lane estate.
Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, said,
“Squibbers Way is nearly complete and we’re very excited to be working closely with Bridgwater Carnival to plan an opening event which will do justice to this proud Bridgwater tradition.
“We’re all keen to see the new road open but we also have to have one eye on the future. We’ve been impressed with the high quality of work delivered so far and it makes sense to extend the original scheme to allow Whitemountain to complete these extra works now with reduced impact on the public.”
Mike Crocker, president of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Committee, said,
“I am delighted with the new road name, and this goes to show just how proud local people are of Bridgwater Carnival and its colourful history.
“Our carnival and its associated activities continue to increase in popularity every year, and having a road named after our squibbing tradition is fantastic recognition. I would like to personally thank everybody who voted for Squibbers Way and we’re looking forward to putting on a spectacular show for the opening.”
John Hasson, Civil Engineering Director at Whitemountain, said,
“We are pleased to confirm that the scheme is making good progress and on track to open in December.
“Exciting plans are being developed for the opening and we’re very much looking forward to supporting a fantastic mini squibbing display to celebrate the opening of Squibbers Way.”
The name Squibbers Way was the people’s choice after the public nominated their suggested names and voted for their favourite. Squibbing is unique to Bridgwater and by definition is the simultaneous firing of lots of large fireworks (“squibs”). Many people come to Bridgwater just to see the squibbing as it can be seen nowhere else on the planet. See notes to editors for more information about squibbing.
The 840m long Squibbers Way includes two new bridges – the Crossways Bridge over the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal and the Somerset Bridge over the River Parrett which at 52 metres long is the longest single span bridge in Somerset.
The £18.4m Colley Lane scheme is funded by EDF S106 contributions, housing developer S106 contributions, the DfT Productivity Investment Fund and Somerset County Council’s capital programme.
The first recorded evidence of squibbing in Bridgwater was back in 1716.
Nowadays, in the region of 150 “Squibbers” are involved with squibbing on Carnival night, typically members of the Carnival clubs. The Squibbers line the Bridgwater High Street after the carnival procession has finished (in a line of two wide), and all light their squibs at the same time.
Because of their size, the squibs are tied to poles (coshes) and, once lit, are held above the squibber’s head until the firework extinguishes.
The Squibber holds the squib at arms’ length above their head with the firework facing toward the sky. The effect is bright light being fired into the air along the road in one great long trail of fire.
The Squib itself is a large firework, strapped to a cosh (a solid block of wood which is attached to a large pole).
Squibs were originally made in homes throughout the town, but are now produced to a secret formula by leading firework manufacturers, especially for Bridgwater Carnival.
In 1929, more 2,000 squibs were ignited during the course of carnival night.
Bridgwater Carnival 2019
This year’s event takes place on Saturday 2 November, with a revised start time of 6pm. For all of the latest Bridgwater Carnival news, visit www.bridgwatercarnival.org.uk.