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Bideford Long Bridge
River Torridge, Bideford, Devon, UK
associated engineer
Not known
James Green
Freeman Fox & Partners
date  1460 - 1500, 1792 - 1810, 1864 - 1866, 1925, 1968
UK era  Tudor  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SS454264
ICE reference number  HEW 862
Long Bridge is a Grade I listed ancient monument spanning the River Torridge, connecting the east and west parts of Bideford. It was constructed originally from timber around 1286, and required regular reconstruction. Between 1460 and 1500 a masonry bridge was built around the wooden one, which allowed the old structure to act as scaffolding for the new work while remaining open to traffic.
Long Bridge has 24 pointed arches, varying in span from 3.7m to 7.6m. The differing spans reflect the different lengths of timber used for arch lintels in the underlying original structure. The bridge piers vary from 2.7m to 3.7m in thickness.
Widening was carried out from 1792 to 1810 by James Green, who was appointed Devonís first County Bridge Surveyor in 1808. Semi-circular arches were constructed against the sides of the bridge, between the existing triangular cutwaters. The roadway was increased to a total width of almost 4m.
During the 1820s, it was suggested that the bridge be modified to allow the deck to be raised and lowered for shipping to pass underneath. Then in the 1840s the bridge trustees rejected the offers of three companies to lay a railway track over it ó although a temporary track was laid during the World War I (1914-18) to help the war effort.
Between 1864 and 1866, footways were added by constructing a framework of steel girders supported on stone corbels built onto the cutwaters. Decorative cast iron parapets were fixed to the girders. The full width of the masonry structure could then be used for traffic, resulting in pavements 1.4m wide flanking a carriageway 4.5m wide.
The bridge was widened once more in 1925, using reinforced concrete.
On 9th January 1968, the western arch of the bridge, nearest the Town Wall, collapsed under flood water. The Department of Transport took ownership from the Bideford Bridge Trust, and Freeman Fox & Partners designed replacement arches and carried out extensive repairs to the bridge. These included installing small diameter concrete piles through all the piers, giving a continuous grout curtain down to 3.7m below river bed level.
In 1987, a new high-level trunk road bridge was constructed over the River Torridge, north of Long Bridge, which relieved traffic loading on the old structure. A 3 tonne weight restriction was introduced in 2002.
Strengthening works to Bideford bridge were proposed in 2006 but had to be scaled back when cost estimates reached £9m. More modest work began in September 2008, at a cost of £2.1m. The 10-month scheme is designed to preserve the bridge for another 60 years. Work includes the repair of concrete beams supporting the footways and the installation of cathodic protection (applying an electric current to the concrete, which stops the reinforcement corroding).
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH South

Bideford Long Bridge