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The Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, and the Bridge witnessed the cruel events which affected the surrounding residents. It was hit during various bombing raids although without suffering fatal damage.

In the end, in June 1937, faced with the imminent arrival of the national troops, the Northern Army’s Engineers Battalion received orders to destroy all of the means for crossing the Nervión so as to hinder the advance of Franco’s troops. In the early morning of 17th June a massive explosion fatally wounded the Vizcaya Hanging Bridge and its crossbeam fell into the water. Paradoxically, on the 22nd June, five days later, the war ended on the Bilbao Front.

The new regime now administered the Bridge as shown by the following original document from the period:

PROVINCIAL COMMISSION FOR THE REINCORPORATION OF THE COMBATANTS TO WORK

SAppear at this Commission (Rodríguez Arias, 8, 2º, office of the Regional work Delegation), next Monday 15th of this month at 11am, with a sworn list of the people who joined this entity after 18th July 1936, stating, apart from the names and surnames, age, position and condition under which they jointed (whether ex-combatants, disabled, etc.).

For God, Spain and its National-Union Revolution.

Bilbao, 10 de Junio de 1942.

THE PRESIDENT COMMANDANT

[on the stamp]

FRANCORI AGURRA

LONG LIVE SPAIN!

A few days after its destruction the dredging work on the river started so as to allow the ships to reach the Altos Hornos de Vizcaya blast furnace in Sestao and other industries situated on the banks of the Nervión. The reconstruction had to wait until two years later. This situation of forced rest was the only holiday taken by the Vizcaya Hanging Bridge during its entire existence of over a century.

On 5th August 1939 the Bridges Department of the Vizcaya’s Public Works Headquarters issued Order Nº 3880 which passed the reconstruction project for the Vizcaya Hanging Bridge. The civil engineer Mr Juan José Aracil was in charge of the reconstruction project which would include some changes from the original.

Other projects signed by the engineers Mr Borreguero and Mr Lozano were not approved by the competent authorities despite the fact that they were more faithful to the original, although they did take part in the final project which was led by Aracil. The new director of the works was the engineer Mr Luis Alberto Ribed Nieulant.

Main modifications

The main modifications were due to the requirements imposed by the rules to which the reconstruction approval was subject. Amongst these were the suspension system, the deck and transversal beams and the upper trolley.

The work was performed without any serious incidents, except for the strong wind a few days before the end of the works which did not however causes any serious problems. Finally, on 19th June 1941, just under two years after the reconstruction work started, the service was reopened.

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