Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Our old bridges are testimony to the ingenuity of our forefathers and have long been an essential part of our transport arrangements.   There are many unusual bridges up and down the country and indeed some of them are not what they seem.




The three ways to nowhere bridge


The fascinating little town of Crowland in the South Lincolnshire Fens, was once an island in the previously inhospitable fens.   Prior to the drainage of the Fens, the main streets of the town were in fact waterways of the River Welland with the buildings standing on various banks.    The unique ‘Triangular Bridge’ was built of Ancaster limestone between 1360 and 1390 and replaced a wooden construction.  It has three arches but one over arching structure, a 3 in 1 bridge built to facilitate the crossing of the waters of the divided River Welland.   As the river now completely by-passes the town, this strange bridge  stands on dry land in the town centre and is said to be the greatest curiosity in Britain, if not in Europe.

A lone stone figure which adorns the bridge is thought to have been moved from the west front of Croyland Abbey.

 The Triangular Bridge
A bridge to nowhere


Another bridge which apparently crosses nothing and leads to nowhere can be seen on the village green at Sinnington near Pickering in North Yorkshire.   Although a fine stone road bridge crosses the nearby River Seven in this very pretty village, a tiny stone pack-horse bridge stands high and dry on the green.





The virgin viaduct

A very fine stone bridge carries traffic over the River Wharfe which divides the small brewery town of Tadcaster near York.   However, a little to the west of this bridge is a second one, a fine stone viaduct which was built across the river at the end of the 19th century in preparation for the arrival of the railway.   Alas the railway never made it to Tadcaster and the fine viaduct remained unwanted and unused.
The Virgin Viaduct

The bridge that nearly wasn’t

A 14th century bridge over the River Ouse links the towns of Huntingdon and Godmanchester in Cambridgeshire, but only just!   Apparently it was a case of ‘ guess and hope for the best’ when it was built because work on building this bridge started on both sides of the river at the same time and without a common plan.   Luckily the builders managed to make a sort of connection but, if you look closely, you will see a severe kink towards the centre of the bridge.
Ouse Bridge






The Bridge over the Atlantic

Seil Island is separated from mainland Argylshire by a narrow strip of the Atlantic Ocean and the two are connected by a fine stone bridge at Clachan.   Known as ‘ The Bridge over the Atlantic’. This fine arch of Telford design was erected in 1792 and still gives vehicular access to the island.

The Bridge over the Atlantic



The Ironbridge

The world’s first iron bridge was opened in 1779 over the River Severn at Coalbridge in Shropshire.   It was designed by Thomas Pritchard of Broseley and constructed by Abraham Darby 111.   The first major bridge ever to be constructed in cast iron, this historical landmark gave its name to the area known as ‘Ironbridge’, the very heart of the Industrial Revolution of the  18th century.   Some 200ft long and an almost perfect semi-circle, the bridge is now open to foot passengers only and is part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
Iron Bridge



The Conwy suspension bridge

The River Conwy on the coastal route from Chester to Holyhead, a formidable barrier to travellers since early times, had to be crossed by ferry until 1826.    In that year, the great engineer Thomas Telford, designed a fine suspension bridge to blend with Conwy Castle.  Having been by-passed by a modern road bridge in 1958 and subsequently in 1991 by a road tunnel under the river, this splendid structure is now in the care of the National Trust.
Conwy Bridge



A fine replica


Another fine ornate suspension bridge carries traffic over the River Thames at Marlow in Buckinghamshire.   This bridge, built in 1831 and restored in 1966, is a smaller replica of the one over the River Danube linking Buda and Pest in Hungary.

 Marlow Bridge



The Transporter Bridge

A bridge which is not of the normal sort crosses the River Tees at Middlesborough in Cleveland.   This fine metal construction was erected in 1911 and literally carries vehicles over the river on a suspended platform. It is a transporter bridge, towering 160ft above the water, and ten cars & six hundred passengers can be conveyed above the river on this unique structure, a sight to behold.
The Transporter Bridge


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