AN estimated 5,000 to 7,000 people walked into the local history books by crossing Doncaster's new bridge.

They joined the Mayor of Doncaster and other dignitaries in the march over St George's Bridge hours before it opened to traffic late on Sunday night.

Named by Free Press reader Lorna Wilkinson, 17, of Bawtry, the new bridge is the first stage in the project designed to end the notorious bottlenecks which have dogged the northern approach to the town for almost 40 years.

She joined the mayor Coun Beryl Roberts in cutting the ribbon to mark the opening after winning our competition.

The old North Bridge closed to traffic on Monday and will re-open in 18 months restricted to public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.

There was a carnival atmosphere to the occasion with balloons and stickers being handed out and traditional music and a performance from morris dancers.

The bridge was blessed by the Rev John Bird, vicar of St George's Church, which overlooks the bridge. Council leader Martin Winter spoke of the project representing a bright future for the town.

Businesses at Town End, which had been disrupted during the construction, were keen to show their support for the project.

Hairdresser Vivien Law was the first person to drive over the new bridge on Sunday evening in a VW Beetle supplied by Hayseldens.