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Cowley Bridge
River Creedy, Cowley, Devon, UK
associated engineer
James Green
date  26th June - 5th October 1814
era  Georgian  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SX906955
ICE reference number  HEW 997
Cowley Bridge spans the River Creedy, close to its upstream confluence with the River Exe, at the site of an earlier medieval bridge.
The old bridge had suffered several cycles of collapse and repair, and finally was destroyed by flooding in 1810. At Easter 1813, Devon and Exeter magistrates asked the County Bridge Surveyor, James Green — who held the post from 1808 to 1841 — to design a new bridge.
He designed an ashlar masonry bridge of three arched spans, decorated with a dentillated string course. The design is typical of Green’s larger bridges, and is reminiscent of the bridges built by his former employer John Rennie. The spans are 15.2m, 16.8m and 15.2m, and the width between parapets is 6.8m.
The contract was let to James Green by midsummer 1813. He advertised for skilled masons on 9th June 1814, and the first stone was laid on 26th June by James Buller MP and John Quicke, Devon County Magistrate (the event is commemorated by two plaques on the structure). The bridge was completed at a cost of £9,000 and opened on 5th October 1814. This was Green’s most expensive single bridge. The cost was shared equally by the county of Devon and the city of Exeter.
River flows from the Exe and Culm catchments also spill into the Creedy, and flooding continued to be a problem. In addition, from 1851 to 1976 the Exe’s floodplain was partially blocked the Exeter to Crediton railway line. Works by South West Water Authority and British Rail in the 1970s included building a channel between the Exe and the Creedy immediately upstream of the bridge, which improved flow through the arches considerably.
The bridge carries the A377 between Exeter and Barnstaple, although it is rather narrow by modern standards. It is a Grade II listed structure and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH South
Location

Cowley Bridge