Old Tram Bridge reconstruction, Preston
River Ribble, Avenham Park, Preston, Lancashire, UK
John Rennie snr
Matthews & Mumby Ltd
1965 - 1966 (original completed 1803)
ICE reference number
photo Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
The footbridge over the Ribble in Avenham Park is a modern replica of a timber trestle bridge designed for the horse-drawn Lancaster Canal Tramroad
(Preston & Walton Plateway), now gone, that once linked two sections of the Lancaster Canal
The canal was intended to run all the way from Kendal in Cumbria to Westhoughton, near Wigan. This route included two major river crossings for which aqueducts were proposed — the Lune Aqueduct
and an even larger one over the Ribble at Preston. The Lune Aqueduct went ahead but the the cost was so high that plans to build the other were abandoned. Instead, the tramroad was constructed, crossing the river on the original of this timber bridge. The aqueduct and tramroad were designed by John Rennie
(senior, 1761-1821), engineer of the Lancaster Canal.
The tramway linked to the bridge via a large incline at Preston (steps and a footpath through the park mark its former location). After the bridge, the horse-drawn tram continued along a 1.1km tree-lined embankment to Penwortham Mill, before rising to Walton Summit on another incline.
Tramway operations ceased around 1860 and ownership of the bridge was given to the Preston Corporation by the London & North Western Railway in 1872. By 1965 the timber bridge was much decayed.
It was replaced by Matthews & Mumby with a modern bridge designed to look as much like the original as possible. They used reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete beams. The present bridge, and by implication the original one, has nine spans of approximately 13.7m each and an overall length of 123.5m.
Contractor (1803): William Cartwright
Research: PHEW, ECPK
"The Industrial Archaeology of Lancashire" by Owen Ashmore
David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1969