BUMPER crowds flocked to Poole's momentous Twin Sails Bridge party to welcome a 21st century icon civic leaders believe will help “support the town's next generation.”
Around 2,000 guests packed yesterday's official celebrations, held to mark the conclusion of a 40-year dream for a second Poole Harbour crossing.
Huge cheers and a Royal Marines trumpet fanfare accompanied the 6pm ceremonial lifting of the bridge's leaves - which were designed to mimic the sails of a yacht.
The preceding three-minute sequence of lights and sirens had already been met with rapturous applause.
Addressing the crowds, 85-years to the day since the opening of the town's existing bridge, Poole Mayor Graham Wilson declared: “For many years Poole has longed for a second harbour crossing - today it is achieved.
“After many years of traffic delay and disruption the promise of more reliable journeys is now here.
“The land where we're standing for our celebrations is important to both Poole's past and its future.
“In the past there was a power station here, which reminds us of Poole's industrial heritage.
“With a new bridge this land can support the next generation with thousands of new homes and jobs.”
Earlier the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra performed a newly commissioned Twin Sails Overture, created with students from five Poole schools.
Borough of Poole strategic director Jim Bright, who was instrumental in making sure the Twin Sails dream became a reality, told the crowd: “Projects like this never happen by accident, they stand as a testament to those who 'saw it through.'”
Mr Bright, who acknowledged the support of the Daily Echo throughout the project, added: “My hope is that all who live, work and visit Poole will feel proud of this new edition to our town.”
A flotilla of illuminated boats passed through the structure, with musical accompaniment from the BSO and Her Royal Marines Collingwood band.
Another three minutes of lights and sirens sounded as the bridge closed and the party moved onto Poole Quay.
Live music, street entertainers, fire shows and circus workshops took place on the quayside until a firework grand finale brought the celebrations to an end well into the night.
ELECTRIC goldfish, an illuminated flower forest and cut paper shadows were among 24 artworks accompanying the celebrations.
The free showcase of illuminated artworks, called Brilliance, included displays at Poole Museum and businesses along Lower High Street and the quay.
Other vessels included yachts from Poole Yacht Club, Parkstone Yacht Club, Jenkins Marine, the Friends and Dolphin and Poole Harbour Commissioners.
DARREN Langley, aged 44, of North Dorset, said: “Our company actual did some work on the bridge, all the drainage.
“It has been a great project and has given lots of local businesses work.”
RESIDENT Rita Atterton, aged 81, said: “This will hopefully be a good thing for the town.
“I was lucky, as I was only given tickets for this event last evening. I hear some people had queued three hours. The bridge looks amazing lit up.”
Stuart Osborne, aged 46, from Poole, said: “I am born and bred in Poole and this bridge is wonderful.
“We've waited many years and it has been worth the wait.”