Lorry smashes into historic weighbridge in Soham when driver follows sat nav
PUBLISHED: 18:57 01 September 2017
A lorry driver who smashed into Soham’s rare historic weighbridge when his sat nav took him down a narrow street had to be stopped from driving away by a pub customer who jumped in front of the large haulage truck.
The Grade II weighbridge is one of only two working examples in the UK.
Now, just a third of it is left after pieces of wood were cut away to safely free the lorry from the contraption on the side of the landmark Fountain Pub in Soham on Tuesday (29) at about 2pm.
Landlord John Hartley said it is the fourth time the weighbridge has been hit in four years and added there were no signs from one direction warning of height restrictions.
Mr Hartley said: “If the customer hadn’t jumped in front of the lorry he would have driven away and ran a serious risk of pulling the whole thing down.
“The driver didn’t even say sorry. He was new to the area and followed his sat nav.
“Police closed the road while we had staff down from the council, structural engineers and police to make it safe, free the lorry and try to salvage what we could.
“It was a nightmare day and upsetting to see such an important piece of history ruined like that.
“About a third of it is left. Luckily the oldest pieces of wood are in tact; they’re massive beams at the top of the weighbridge.
“The pieces that are damaged that the lorry took out are at the bottom gangway where the wood isn’t so old,” he said.
“When the lorry hit I was in my office and the walls shook. It hit with such an impact it pulled out the fascia of the building.
“The photos almost brought me to tears, but we are determined to make it good again, we are very proud of this structure.”
Mr Hartley is checking insurance and will liaise with heritage officers to return the weighbridge to its former glory having spent hours of lovingly restoring parts of it four years ago.
• The steelyard weighbridge survived a fire in May 1900 along with the Fountain Justice Room and were the only two remaining buildings that survived. Originally know as The White Lion, The Fountain is believed to date from the 15th Century.
• The steelyards date from the 17th century. The other weighbridge is at Woodbridge in Suffolk.
• They were used for weighing agricultural produce like hay and straw to an accuracy of within two ounces.
• It was used up until 1879, when the Ely to Newmarket railway line opened, enabling farmers to take their goods to Newmarket for weighing instead.
• The Soham weighbridge was overhauled in 1929 and renovated again in 2001 by the former landlords with the help of a grant from East Cambridgeshire District Council.
• The weighbridge was treated to more restorative work in 2013 by the current landlords who have pledged to fix the damage.