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Higherford Old Bridge
Higherford, near Barrowford, Lancashire, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  circa 1600
era  Tudor  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SD861402
Higherford Old Bridge, or Packhorse Bridge, is also sometimes called "Th'Owd Brig" or "Roman Bridge", though it is certainly not of Roman date. It was built in the late 16th or early 17th century for use by packhorse trains carrying coal from near Girburn, Yorkshire.
It was also used by "Lime Girls from Lothersdale bringing lime into the district” — 'Girls' is a corruption of 'gals, itself an abbreviation of 'Galloways', a breed of horse particularly suited to packhorse work due to their stamina but now extinct in Britain. Methodist John Wesley preached from this bridge in 1774, but the crowd was hostile and he took refuge in what is now the White Bear Inn.
Higherford Old Bridge crosses Pendle Water about 90m upstream from the bridge carrying the A682 Barrowford to Gisburn road. The old structure is a narrow masonry bridge with a single segmental arch spanning more than 12m. It has two rings of voussoir stones, both chamfered and the lower recessed.
The 300mm wide parapet walls are 1m high at the crown of the arch, where the deck is only 2.6m wide. The coping stones of the parapet walls are secured to each other with iron staples. The parapets are widely splayed on both sides of the western end of the bridge. The north east parapet continues as an approach wall. The southern parapet wall has an iron handrail on its inside, with a flight of 26 steps up the south western side of the deck, the remainder of which is cobbled.
According to a local resident, the cobbled deck surface was laid in around 1985 and is not original. The iron handrail was fitted at the same time. The steep deck surface is very slippery and awkward to use in winter.
Research: PD
bibliography
"The Ancient Bridges of the North of England" by E. Jervoise
EP Publishing Limited, Wakefield, 1973
"A Guide to the Packhorse Bridges of England" by Ernest Hinchliffe
Cicerone Press, Milnthorpe, 1994
"Seen on the Packhorse Tracks" by Titus Thornber
South Pennine Packhorse Trails Trust, 2002
www.pendle.net
Location

Higherford Old Bridge