There will be no bridge jumping on May 1st. Oxford City Council have decided yet again to close Magdalen Bridge on May Morning to stop students from jumping into the River Cherwell. This year will mark the bridge’s third closure in a row.
May Morning is an annual event held on the first day of May, which begins at 6 am with the Magdalen College Choir singing the Hymnus Euchariticus from the top of the Magdalen Tower.
The 500-year traditional gathering draws an estimated 10,000 listeners, including students who come to enjoy the general festivities and party atmosphere following the hymn.
The event involves another tradition of students jumping off the bridge into the potentially shallow water. In 2005, 12 of the 40 student jumpers were taken to the hospital, resulting in the city authorities’ three-year multi-agency agreement to close the bridge.
The Oxford Mail reported last year that the Oxford City Council’s east parliament has been lobbying for the bridge to open once again despite the council’s possible pull-out due to a funding crisis.
However, council emergency planner John Kelly and Oxford police chief Supt Brendan O’Dowda said the bridge will be closed once again between 3 am and 9 am.
“Last year the event passed off without incident and I think it is likely that the event will be managed in the same way as it was last year,” said Supt O’Dowda.
Iffley Fields council disagrees with the plan. “The prohibition made more people jump in after it reopened. I think it is a ridiculous situation and city councillors have not been involved in any of the process,” said Elise Benjamin, an Iffley Fields councillor.
She instead proposes opening the nearby meadow off St Clements to relieve pressure. “The cost of opening the meadow is probably far lower than the amount contributed to closing the bridge.”