The Saga of the Millennium Bridge Lights

For a number of years now, the lighting on Millennium Bridge has regularly featured in my emails to Council officers. The lights haven’t all been working properly since 2003, by my reckoning. There may have been problems with the original design – the wiring and the inaccessiblity of the lighting have made it particularly hard to maintain. And after almost a decade, the Council doesn’t seem to have got the hang of it.

Here, then, I present the saga of the Millennium Bridge lights, as best I’ve been able to reconstruct it from my notes and emails to Council officers.

On 10 April 2001 York’s Millennium Bridge was formally opened, delayed by a few months due to the Great Floods of November 2000. It cost £4.2m to build and was widely celebrated both for its architecture and for the traffic-free cross-river routes it opened up to pedestrians and cyclists. And a handsome bridge it looked.

My tenure as Councillor began in May 2003. On 17 June 2003 a wrecking spree by vandals broke 30 lights in one night. Only two were left working. The Council made repairs relatively quickly, this time. Perhaps it was still under guarantee?

In April 2005, over half the underseat lights were not working, and several deck lights had been smashed again.

By the summer of 2005, the uplighters at either end had broken, and the decking lights were still off.

By autumn 2005, the decking lights had been abandoned, and blanked off with steel panels.

Repairs saw all but three of the underseat lights working by the middle of December 2005, but on the twenty-third, the underseat lighting was “suspended” due to vandalism (despite being under the nose of a CCTV camera).

I pressed the council to get these fixed, and by the end of January 2006, all but two of the underseat lights were fixed.

In March 2006, the long-absent decking lights were converted into LEDs, mounted into near-indestructible hard-wearing steel studs, resembling catseyes.

In July 2006, the underseat lights were off again, as were the new LED decking lights. The latter were fixed in the Autumn but broke down again at Christmas.

By February 2007 only half of the uplighters were working, and an inspection was scheduled.

The LEDs got fixed over the summer.

At the beginning of November 2007

  • 5 uplighters were working on the Fishergate side
  • 7 underseat lights were working, 8 broken
  • a couple of the LED decklights were broken

By the middle of January 2008, the LED decklights were off again, and only 3 underseat lights working.

After a big push in early February 2008, all but two of the underseat lights got fixed. In an email to me, maintenance manager Fred Isles proposed the radical energy-saving step of replacing the exising lighting with “Light omitting diodes”.

April 2008, and none of the uplighters were working again.

And that brings us to the present: the LEDs have just been fixed, but there are no uplighters and only a few of the underseat lights.

The Millennium Bridge is a great asset to our part of the city. But you might need a torch.

Andy D’Agorne, Councillor for Fishergate Ward

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