Bristol Times: The Week The Was looks at February 1974 when the Avonmouth M5 bridge, already two years late, took a significant leap forward.
This was the February week leading up to the 1974 General Election and, as a consequence, both the Labour leader Harold Wilson, pictured, and the Tory PM, Ted Heath, were in Bristol hoping to garner votes at the hustings.
On the day, Labour gained 301 seats (17 short of an overall majority) against the Conservatives 297.
Although the Tories had a larger share of the popular vote a hung Parliament led PM Heath to resign in favour of Harold Wilson.
In other news, hopes for an early completion of the jinxed M5 bridge over the River Avon were given a boost as four massive, sixty-foot box girder sections were hoisted into place. The high tide operation, said the Post, closed the ever decreasing gap to just 50 feet.
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Work on the bridge, it was revealed, was now running two years behind schedule. It was hoped to be completed by May – well in time for the summer holiday rush to the West Country.
There was also trouble further up river, near the suspension bridge, as a geologist with specialist knowledge was called in to advise the council on rock falls in the Avon Gorge. Inspection and recordings of rock movements had, in fact being going on since the previous May, with suspect material being removed. In the interests of public safety the Portway was closed in the summer and didn't re-open for TWO years.
The Bristol 600 exhibition of August 1973 had, despite some rotten weather, been a great success, with thousands of visitors, including the Queen. But now, it transpired, the company which had organised the show on The Downs, Commerce Displays (UK) Ltd., had gone into voluntary liquidation owing its creditors £74,552.
As evidence of fraud mounted, so the police were called in to investigate.
Finally, plans had been submitted to the council for a two and a half million shopping and office complex to be built on the site occupied by Maple's furniture store – the corner of Triangle West and Queen's Road.
The plan, which would involve a subway under Queen's Road, meant Maple's finding a new site elsewhere in the city. Pedestrian access to the 23 shop units would be from three levels, Triangle West, Queen's Road and Park Place, with a direct entrance to Maggs's department store from the subway.
Although these 1974 plans came to nothing, in 1980 the Clifton Down Shopping Centre opened instead.