A £1m restoration and decades of campaigning later, the Hockley Viaduct finally officially reopened yesterday.

Civic chiefs hope it will boost the wellbeing and fitness of Hampshire residents, and fittingly the county’s own gold medal-winning Olympic cyclist, Dani King, was on hand to cross the historic structure first.

“It’s great to see so many people around today. It will be great for the city and great for the community.

“I’ve got quite a lot of friends and family in Winchester and I always head out towards Winchester when I’m training,” she said.

The former Barton Peveril student, who has just returned from a gold-medal winning performance at the world cycling championships in Minsk, crossed the bridge accompanied by children from Compton All Saints Church of England Primary School. 

They broke the red tape held by Winchester Mayor, Frank Pearson, and former Winchester City Council leader, George Beckett.

The bridge, just outside Winchester, completes the final section of National Cycle Network Route 23, running from Reading to the Isle of Wight.

And commuters can now park and cycle from the South Park and Ride site into the city centre.

Sustrans, a charity promoting “healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys”, has been involved throughout the project.

Chief executive Malcolm Shepherd, said: “It’s brilliant. It’s linking the whole network and opening up whole new routes. The roads just aren’t safe enough now and we need to change that. This must not stop here. We’re making this a positive alternative to the car. This is just the start for Winchester.”
County councillor Andrew Gibson agreed: “Something like this is especially important for the elderly. It’s about health and wellbeing, not just fitness,” he said.

After the ceremony Dani headed to Eastleigh to receive the Freedom of the Borough.

“I’m just honoured really. Since the games, receiving things like the MBE, and now this. I never thought I’d get this kind of thing. I’m honoured and it’s great that my hard work is being recognised,” she said.