Throughout the years, residents of Southampton have simply accepted it as part of their surroundings, crossing it without a single thought, barely even aware of its presence.

Central Bridge is the  Victorian bridge that has displayed its Gothic elegance for more than 140 years, steadfast and unyielding.

But what should never be taken for granted is the importance of this historic structure in helping to keep traffic moving in this often busy area.

Once described as a “bridge of noble design’’, its imposing features and style are almost lost amongst the surrounding developments and mainly go unnoticed by the football fans heading for St Mary’s Stadium and other passing motorists.

The bridge, constructed by the London and South Western Railway Company, aimed to eliminate the need for two level crossings when it was officially opened on July 28, 1882.

These crossings were located at the terminus of Marsh Lane and the previous Bridge Road.

(Image: Echo)

These crossings caused great inconvenience. The Chapel district in the 19th century was a heavily populated area and the two obstacles often caused disruption to horse-drawn transport to and from the floating bridge

Discussions began about constructing a bridge across the railway in 1871, sparking a series of negotiations over the next nine years between the railway company and Southampton Corporation’s Level Crossings Committee

Central Bridge, spanning 272 feet in length, was crafted in the early Gothic style under the meticulous direction of William Jacomb, the esteemed engineer of the railway company.

Jacomb's vision for the bridge included intricate wrought ironwork, sturdy pillars, and ornate cast iron balustrades that added a touch of elegance to the structure.

Adorned with a layer of concrete and a pavement made of wooden blocks, the bridge was well-suited for the horse-drawn carriages that traversed its path during that era.

(Image: Echo)

Atop the sturdy iron plates rested a foundation of concrete, followed by a surface of wooden blocks that best suited the horses and carts of the era. The pedestrian walkways, however, were bordered by curbs and surfaced with asphalt.

On the day of the opening ceremony, the bridge and the approach roads were decorated with bunting and several thousand people gathered to watch the event.

The ambitious but much-needed bridge cost £45,000 to build - more than £4.5million in today's money.

Central Bridge originally spanned numerous railway tracks, but now allows passage for a single track leading to the Eastern Docks.

(Image: Echo)

The then-mayor, WH Davies, councillors and town officials gathered at the civic offices, which were then in the High Street, shortly before 1pm.

They drove in procession, accompanied by mace bearers and town sergeants to the centre of the bridge where railway company directors met them. After a brief speech, the mayor invited the builder, HW Bull, to declare the bridge officially open

A newspaper report of the occasion said: “The crowd were extremely anxious to get over the bridge, and in their anxiety, broke through the police, and made rush before all the carriages had got away, but fortunately no casualty occurred.’’

The Grade-II listed bridge spans an area once occupied by sidings on the approach to the old Southampton Terminus station