Derry father and daughter bridging the generation gap

Gabriel Hall at the Peace Bridge.  (1706JB12)
Gabriel Hall at the Peace Bridge. (1706JB12)

A Derry father and daughter have bridged the generation gap in terms of engineering Foyle crossings.

Not only do Gabriel and Katie Hall from Culmore share a profession but the family members have also worked on two of the biggest capital projects to grace the city.

Fifty-eight year-old Gabriel was key player in the largest engineering feat in Derry’s history - the building of the spectacular Foyle Bridge in the early 1980s while his 20 year-old daughter Katie worked on placement at the latest river crossing in the city, the new Peace Bridge.

Graham Construction, the company which created both structures, gave both members of the family engineering team the opportunity to become part of the city’s history by working on the bridges.

Katie got the chance to work on the Peace Bridge on placement from her Masters of Engineering (MEng) course at Edinburgh University.

She is currently taking part in a charity programme in Ghana but Queen’s graduate, dad Gabriel, is looking forward to the opening of the new bridge on June 25.

He explained: “Katie applied to numerous places and was delighted to be offered the placement with Graham Construction which was taking on a number of students for the Peace Bridge project.

“It was even more attractive to get a placement on the bridge because it was right on her doorstep. She really enjoyed the experience. It may have been long hours but she was really happy to get the opportunity,” her dad told the ‘Journal’.

Mr Hall, who now works at Graham Construction’s head office in Hillsborough, said he and his daughter, and indeed the city of Derry, owed a lot to the company.

“Graham has a long association with big construction projects in Derry - as early as 1939 the company built the GNR at Foyle Road. I worked with Graham on the large scale Culmore Sewerage Scheme in 1976 and, of course, the Foyle Bridge which was started in December 1980 and opened to traffic in May 1984.”

He added: “Graham gave me a chance 30 odd years ago and now Katie has been given a chance - it’s something we are very grateful for.”

Derry’s £14m European funded Peace Bridge is due to be opened to the public as part of a weekend packed full of events on Saturday, June 25 at 3pm.