On This Day

The Day the British Blew Up the Sagaing Bridge

By Wei Yan Aung 30 April 2019

Seventy-seven years ago today, retreating British forces destroyed the Sagaing Bridge to prevent invading Japanese troops from pursuing them. Also known as the Ava Bridge, the span linking Mandalay and Sagaing had been built by the British during the colonial period.

The center of the structure finally collapsed after being dynamited by British troops around 18 times.

The 3,948-ft-long road, rail and pedestrian bridge boosted the flow of trade in the country after it was opened in 1934 by Governor Sir Hugh Lansdown Stephenson.

It was built by India’s Braithwaite Co. at a cost of 14.3 million rupiahs. The company imported cement from India and had the quality of the bricks and stones used to build the bridge tested at Rangoon University.

The bridge was not renovated during Japanese rule. Authorities attempted to repair the bridge in 1946, but at that time it was difficult to order the trusses needed from abroad, and the bridge was not repaired until 1953.

Myanmar President Dr. Ba Oo re-opened the bridge the following year. The historic structure is now a tourist attraction in Sagaing. A new span, the Ayeyawady Bridge (Yadanabon), was built in 2008 and both bridges are in use at present.

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