Bermuda’s Famous Somerset Bridge
A short Story
As part of a recent cruise we spent two days in Bermuda and struck out early to see all we could. The first day we made it by ferry to Hamilton, where we spent the morning, took a bus out to St. George for lunch and a ferry back to the dockyards. One of our goals was a visit to the village of Somerset and with an hour and a half to sunset we decided to check off Somerset and the Somerset drawbridge. The bridge was described in a guide as the world’s smallest drawbridge with an opening of only 18 inches (actually it was less than 12 inches) and seemed to make it an interesting goal.
Not sure what to expect and with our bus day-pass in hand we climbed aboard the next bus toward Hamilton and asked the driver if he could let us off at Somerset bridge. I have to mention that everywhere we went in Bermuda everyone was very friendly and extremely helpful (another story about that later). The bus stops along the way are either stone and mortar shelters or are only marked by a six foot pole in the color of the route. Bermuda’s roads are very narrow and they are often cut thru notches in the coral and limestone rock with barely room for traffic going in both directions.
Our driver pointed out the bus stop poles and let us off just before the famous bridge. Once off the bus we weren’t sure we hadn’t made a mistake. Standing on the side of the road there wasn’t anything to see in either direction except the narrow road and bushes grown to the edge of the road. Looking in the supposed direction of the bridge the road cut thru a rock formation with no pedestrian path at all. Without much of a choice we march off toward the rock cut. The good news was that the speed limit sign approaching the cut was 15 Km. The bad news was that nobody paid any attention to it as cars just roared by. We commented to each other about if it was better to get hit from behind and not see it coming or to be facing the oncoming assault as we walked the narrow road?
Needless to say we made it to the bridge and I’m not sure what I expected but that surely wasn’t it. The bridge is again a narrow two-lane stone bridge over a channel thru the island. The center is a wooden structure with a section in the middle less than eighteen inches wide on hinges. It is obviously intended for the mast of a sailboat to thread that gap and there are a number of signs with the phone number to call to open the drawbridge. I could be wrong, but I doubt the drawbridge is opened often. It also probably requires a good sailor to keep from gouging his mast. Later locals said that the gap is almost never opened any more except for publicity.
We took some pictures and trekked back along the road to the bus stop, living to sightsee another day and getting back in time for sunset in the dockyards.