River Parrett Structures

Town Bridge


Bridge Name:   Town Bridge
No.:   40
Location:   Bridgwater
Build Date:   1883
Engineer:   Designed by R.C.Else and G.B.Laffan
Wrought iron road bridge with a span of 75 feet with seven latticed arch ribs. This structure replaced the earliest cast iron bridge in Somerset built in 1797, which replaced a masonary bridge dating back to the 12th century.1

The grant of pontage to William Brewer in 1200 indicates that a bridge either already existed or was planned. Brewer was later remembered as the builder of the bridge. In the later 13th century there was apparently a common fund to maintain the bridge, known by 1286 as the great bridge. Sir John Trivet gave 300 marks to rebuild the bridge in the 1390s, and work on it was in progress in 1399-1400. There were houses on both the old and the new bridge.In the 1480s tides and military vehicles damaged the bridge, which was repaired in 1532 and 1678. It was of stone, with three arches and cutwaters. By the end of the 18th century all the houses on it had been removed. The medieval bridge was replaced by an iron one cast in 1795 at Coalbrookdale by Thomas Gregory and transported by water. It stood on masonry plinths and was virtually complete in October 1798. The old bridge was difficult to demolish and its piers were then still standing. The new bridge, with an elliptical arch pierced in Coalbrookdale’s characteristic style, was topped by cast iron fencing over a 75-ft. span. Increasing traffic proved too heavy for the bridge, which was replaced by the present cast iron one, designed by R.C. Else and G.B. Laffan and made by George Moss of Liverpool, which was opened in 1883.2

References:   1. Civil Engineering Heritage by R.A.Otter
2. British History Online compid=18640