(The booths are gone, but the traffic remains the same...)
Scrobs had to go to Chelmsford earlier in the week. The journey used to be quite a short and pleasant trip back in the eighties, when I had a lot of work in East Anglia, but this time - whoooooa - what an absolute mare!
Of course, the Scrobmobile is the sort of car that seventy-somethings like driving, and if they brought out a VW Rugby, I’d probably buy two, but anyway, the doddle up to North Kent was the usual slow meander, until the Dartford Tunnel approach tail-back started eight miles before the actual crossing! It took me half an hour to cross, and about the same on the way back.
I can easily remember visiting a favourite aunt and uncle near Shefford back in 1964, riding a 125cc Lambretta. I can’t remember the fee to get under the Thames, but it must have been just a few pence even in old money. Nowadays, the charge for a return trip is a whopping £5.00! About a million vehicles cross over every week.
The government promised that the tunnel and bridge would be toll-free twenty years ago, but that idea has been kicked down the road over the years, and the crossing is still a huge cash cow for the Ministry of Transport, which offers a ludicrous statement that ‘the bridge needs continuing maintenance because of - wait for it - increased traffic’! The ‘costs’ are entirely justified!
The chief engineer on the bridge is a personal friend, and I’ll have to ask him what he thinks the next time we’re testing the quality of Shep’s 'Old Bridge Stanchion' - 8.7abv...