Hawkesworth Bridge El Cayo, British Honduras, long ago
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Sunday October 22, 2017

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Hawkesworth Bridge and flood waters, about 1969. Next three photos by Gerald Leaman about 1969

San Ignacio Savannah. Before flood, taken from the Bridge

Opening of the Hawkesworth bridge in San Ignacio Town, 1949. It shows Bishop Douglas John Wilson delivering the invocation. Cayo district commissioner Hamilton Anderson can be seen with a hat in his hand.

Hawkesworth Suspension Bridge, opened in 1949 and is named after Governor Sir E. Gerald Hawkesworth 1947-1948. Courtesy of Belize Archives and Records Service.

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Hawkesworth Bridge El Cayo, British Honduras, long ago

The Hawkesworth bridge was opened on Saturday August 20th 1949 and was named after the late Sir Edward Gerald Hawkesworth, former governor of Britsh Honduras. The type of bridge was decided based on the fact of very high flooding and that the River was used to float logs downstream. The Director of Public Works, Executive Engineer, Chief Engineer for the Crown Agents, who was entrusted the design, agreed to build a suspension bridge. Tenders for the construction of the bridge were called from July of 1946 and subsequently contracted were Messrs. Head Wrightson & Co Ltd for the steel work and Messrs Bruntons Ltd of Musselburgh Scotland for the cables. Construction started on 5th February 1948, supervised by Mr. Eric V. Williams, Executive Engineer and Mr. F. C. Hecker, General Foreman.

The total cost of the bridge was $198,384.33 and contained 2,260 tons of concrete, 264 tons of steel work and the cables, made of 7 individual strands and weighing 18 tons each. The foundation was carried to bedrock 12 feet below the surface. The columns were raised to a height of 46 feet and the center to a height of 52 feet, 7 feet above the heightest known flood level. The total length of the bridge is 480 feet and the main span is 280 feet, with an additional 100 feet on each side.

The story of the venerable Hawkesworth Bridge, which helped in the creation of the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena

For over one hundred years, ( 1840 to 1949 ) the only way to cross from San Ignacio to Santa was by dorey. (canoe) - I remember paying 5 cents to cross over to San Ignacio.- ( Don Adelaido Guzman, Don Tomas Paiz, Don Cipriano Requena, Don Tino Castellanos, Chica and Aniseta Garcia and others who provided this valuable service.

These Two Towns and surroundings depended on River boats for articles of consumption. All merchandise came by River boats, which came almost every day.

In 1947, the news came, a bridge was being brought, somewhere from Africa, in Sections to be erected between San Ignacio and Santa Elena. - It did arrive and were transported by Logging Cameons.

The installation began in the dry weather of 1947. ( And here I pause to make special mention our own Belizeans, like Francis Hecker and others who tackled this job, administered by a British Engineer) ( The procedure is too long to describe now ) But by July of 1949, the Hawkesworth Bridge was Inaugurated by Governor Garvey, the same Governor, who would later on December 31st announce the DEVALUATION OF OUR DOLLAR, ( which would cause, THE BIRTH OF THE MOVEMENT OF BELIZE'S INDEPENDENCE.

The components of this bridge, which by the way presently need regular maintenance are

Steel Towers, Steel Braces, Steel Bed, Steel Rods, Cables, Suspension Joints, Suspension Anchors and tits and bits

Hector Silva

Nestora Jones: This picture depicts British war tanks crossing Hawkesworth Bridge when Guatemala wanted to invade Belize My husband is in the driver in first vehicle, recce platoon queens regiment 1977. They did the same thing in 1975, that's when the Harriers and Pumas were brought in. Nov 1975. They are scimitar light reconnaissance tracked vehicles. CVR(T) With 30mm cannon.

Rawell Pelayo: I was in San Ignacio when that occured. I remember the light going out and i got off my bed because it was very hot. From the hotel porch in the dark i can see and hear those little tanks running through town going towards the border. Then i heard the roar from the harrier engines as the flew over the dark san ignacio town. We didn't know what was going on until we heard the news the fallowing day saying that guatemala had accumulated a large army at the border to invade us. They are crazy. Dont trust them.

Vic N Krish Gonzalez: My great grandfather owned the land on the edge of the river, rite where they are crossing... he has pictures of when they would train on the river.

Elias Marin:
I remember those days! I flew for Maya Airways in those days and remember transporting many of the Gurkha Battalion to PG and Central Farm. Harriers would show up on our wing tip and wave at us letting us know they were looking after us.

Rosita Arvigo: There were Brits stationed atop of Xunantunich to watch the border, Harrier jets and war ships.

Debbie Curling: I remember that year. SCA grounds got taken over by the Brit soldiers with camouflage tanks. Also the hospital roof in Belize city got painted with the Red Cross sign. Thatís how serious the threat was.

Click here for some more history of the Hawkesworth Bridge.

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