Historical Bridges

From medieval packhorse bridges to wonders of Industrial Revolution engineering including the world's first iron bridge, our bridges carried England's travellers and traders for many centuries.

Set on ancient trackways, our three charming little medieval bridges carried all the necessities of life, as well as the raw materials of England's flourishing wool and cloth trades. With many medieval roads too rough or too muddy in winter for wheeled traffic, trains of laden packhorses were often the best method of transport. Dunster Gallox Bridge, at just 1.2 metres (4 feet) wide, was just broad enough for packhorses taking fleeces to Dunster market, while Bow Bridge carried goods to prosperous Furness Abbey and bigger four-arched Moulton Packhorse Bridge bore the old road from Bury St. Edmunds to Cambridge.

Bow Bridge, near Barrow-in-Furness.

Bow Bridge, near Barrow-in-Furness.

Much later, the success of England's Industrial Revolution turned on vast improvements in communication via far better roads, as well as canals and other waterways, and later railways. Revolutionary in its material, the world's first Iron Bridge promoted the expansion of the booming new industries flanking the Severn Gorge, while its high single span allowed trading barges to pass beneath. A generation later, the great Scots engineer Thomas Telford (known as 'the Colossus of Roads' and most famous for his London-Holyhead road) designed thousands of bridges to carry his new routeways. Among them were our graceful cast-iron Cantlop Bridge near Shrewsbury, and splendid stone Over Bridge, at the lowest possible crossing of the Severn near Gloucester.

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