|Bridge Name:||Taunton Bridge or Tone Bridge|
|Engineer:||J.H. Smith Designer|
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|Girder bridge carries the main road north. girders supported by 2 rows of circular columns with weatherings. On the outer side these columns support piers with large volutes and shields containing the Taunton Borough’s coat of arms. The piers are surmounted by 4 good double lamp standards with entwined dolphins and scallop shells at bases, scrolled foliage to globe brackets and finials. These globe lamps are said to be part of the earliest electric street lighting installed in a town in Britain. Good ironwork handrails flank roadway, turned balusters with crocket capitals and openwork panels.1
The exisiting bridge is built on or near the site of a medieval bridge “The medieval town lay on the southern bank of the River Tone. Evidence for a former ford suggests that there was a crossing point to link the town with the hillfort at Norton Fitzwarren, and the Quantock ridgeway. This was succeeded by the medieval Tone Bridge at more or less the same location, mentioned in 1362, rebuilt in 1810, 1834 and 1895.The medieval bridge crossed via an island, now gone, called Sealy’s Island, which was large enough to have buildings on it.2
On complaint that a bridge called . Taunton Bridge, alias Fleetebridge, in or near Taunton, is in great decay for want of repair, the Court, learning that the bridge has hitherto been repaired at the charges of the county, orders that Mr.John Weatham and Mr. William Turner do see to its repair,and that their expenses be reimbursed by the treasurers of the hospitals equally at the next Sessions.3
A bridge at Taunton, probably of timber construction, was first recorded in 1280. By 1570 there was a narrow masonry bridge of six arches, called Tone Bridge. This was replaced in 1810 by a wider bridge of two masonry arches which was renamed North Town Bridge. Plans for a cast-iron bridge in 1828 came to nothing, but six years later an additional, larger, masonry arch was built between the original two, in an attempt to improve the navigation and alleviate flooding. By the 1895 conditions had worsened, and the masonry arches were replaced by a three-span wrought-iron girder bridge supported on cylindrical cast-iron columns. In 1936-8 the girders and deck were replaced by steel, but the cast-iron parapets and lamp standards were re-used as can be seen today.( 4 )
The original town bridge was rebuilt in 1834 and during that time a stone bottle was found bearing this note. “This centre arch was erected at the expense of The Taunton and Bridgwater Canal Company and the first stone was laid on Thursday the 29th May in the year of our Lord 1834 “. The stone bridge had a narrow section which impeded traffic to the newer developments in North Town and around the railway station.
It was rebuilt as the current structure in 1894 at a cost of £7,000 from a design by J.H. Smith the Borough Surveyor. (5)
|References:||1./www.tauntondeane.gov.uk/tdbcsites/her/her_lb/lbdets.asp?id=001176″>Taunton Deane B C������ �,
2. Somerset HER Ref.44467
3.Quarter Sessions 2 October, 18 Charles II. [1666.] Somerset Record Society V 34
Also in The Ancient Bridges of the South of England by Jervoise.