Garibaldi link for bridge - newly-built Britannia Bridge could be renamed

Luigi Reale on Britannia Bridge in Bedford.
Luigi Reale on Britannia Bridge in Bedford.

The newly-built Britannia Bridge over the river in Bedford is set to be renamed with the mayor’s approval if the developer agrees – following a request from an Italian community advocate.

Luigi Reale asked Mayor Dave Hodgson during a recent council meeting to consider changing the name of the bridge from the Britannia Bridge to the Britannia-Garibaldi bridge, which cross the River Great Ouse.

Luigi, who was also praised by the mayor for his part in recently bringing the Italian Consulate back to Bedford said: “Rebranding the bridge will pay homage to the importance of Bedford’s history as well as acknowledging and honouring the contribution of Garibaldi’s countrymen who followed him to Bedford 100 years later to work in the brick factories in the area – contributing enormously to the development of our town.”

Mayor Dave said: “Renaming the developer’s bridge is not a matter for the council, but the developer which owns it.

“Personally, I am very supportive of Mr Reale’s proposal for Garibaldi to be incorporated into the name, as a fitting reminder of his visit to Britannia Iron Works 150 years ago. I am keen to work with Mr Reale and the developer in any way which may assist in making this happen.”

Garibaldi’s 1864 visit to the Britannia Iron Works was covered in our forunner, the Bedfordshire Times, with a report of his arrival by train where he was met by the Mayor of Bedford at the time Mr James Howard.

The report said: “Garibaldi alighted amidst deafening cheers. He inspected the works, inscribed his name in the visitors’ book, planted a tree as a memento of his visit [which] was considered an extremely important event, and the London papers published extensive reports. The Bedfordshire Times issued a special edition in honour of the occasion.”

The Britannia Bridge was opened in June by the great grand-son of John Howard with the great grand-daughter of Giuseppe Garibaldi planting trees near the bridge.

Luigi added: “Garibaldi was a man who changed history and fought for the common man.

“He visited Bedford not just because he was a friend of the Howard family but because he realised the importance of industry in the development of a country.

“This as an event connected to Bedford’s prestigious history not just to the Italian community here.”

The developers were on annual leave and not available for comment as the T&C went to press.