When news spread that the British Government's Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, had floated the idea of constructing a bridge across the English Channel, many commentators praised Johnson's vision and described him as an innovator. Little did they know that the idea of bridge across the English Channel, now the busiest shipping lane in the world, had been considered (and rejected) before.

Steel Times International's correspondent Harry Hodson, famed for his informative historical articles on the steel industry, told the Daily Mail this week (Daily Mail, Wednesday, 24 January 2018) that Victorian engineers were confident a Channel bridge could be built with 280 piers in deep water using the techniques devised by Robert Stephenson and Brunel for the Britannia and Tamar bridges.

According to Hodson, plans for a Channel bridge were rejected because the politicians of the time still had memories of Napoleon.

Whether a bridge across the English Channel is a practical, or even safe, proposition is another story – with so much shipping traffic, I doubt it – but perhaps all we really need is the Chunnel, the Eurostar and the ferries.

Hodson quite rightly asserts that if a bridge ever was built across the English Channel, it would have to use British steel.