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Town Bridge, Bradford-on-Avon
River Avon, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
Town Bridge, Bradford-on-Avon
associated engineer
Not known
date  possibly 13th Century and onwards
era  Medieval  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  ST825609
ICE reference number  HEW 1514
photo  Adam Manolson
A well-known medieval stone bridge that crosses the River Avon at the heart of the wool town of Bradford-on-Avon. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Town Bridge was little more than a packhorse bridge when it was built. The two pointed arches at the south-west end, on the upstream side, possibly date from the thirteenth century, indicating the great age of the structure.
The bridge has nine spans in total, eight of which measure between 14ft 2in and 18ft 3in. The small one at the north-east end spans just 7ft 9in. The bridge's overall length is 175ft. On the upstream side, except for the two pointed ones mentioned, the arches are semi-circular with double arch-rings. In the seventeenth century (or possibly 1769), the bridge was widened on its downstream side to a width of 25ft 6in including footways. Plain semi-circular arches were used for this work.
The piers have cutwaters on their upstream ends only. The second pier from the south-west end is wider than the others and its cutwater is corbelled out to support a small square stone building with a domed roof. Standing on it is a finial and a copper-gilt weather vane in the shape of a fish, known as the Bradford Gudgeon. The building was probably erected as a chapel but served as a lock-up, or 'blind house', for many years.
The bridge now carries the A363. It remains busy as it is the town's only road bridge over the Avon, a task it has been performing for perhaps more than 700 years.
Research: AM
reference sources   CEH South

Town Bridge, Bradford-on-Avon