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Eadsford Bridge
River Ribble, west of Clitheroe, Lancashire, UK
Eadsford Bridge
associated engineer
Not known
date  original possibly 1339
era  Medieval  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SD725414
photo  ICE R&D Fund
Eadsford, or Edisford, Bridge is a stone structure of nine arches dating from the 14th century, though itís possible that an earlier timber bridge existed at the site. The stone bridge has been widened considerably and remains in road traffic use.
Edisford, or "the nobleman's ford" (referring to an Anglo-Saxon nobleman), on the River Ribble was the scene of an 1139 battle. King David of Scotland's army fought and defeated the Lancastrians, who were less in number. In 1339, a grant of pontage was made for a toll bridge here, where the river is shallow. It has been known variously as Edisford, Eadisford and Eadsford Bridge.
The bridge, constructed in sandstone, follows a tight bend in plan and its deck was 2.67m wide. It was built with Gothic arches each of three ribs, pointed triangular cutwaters. The ribs can still be seen on the arch soffits.
Today the bridge has nine spans, four arches crossing the river channel to the east (nearest Clitheroe) and five arches over meadow land to the west. The land spans are partly buried, suggesting the river was once a lot wider than now. Itís very likely that the original structure had 10 arches, and two of them were later reconstructed to form the longer main arch, perhaps as a result of river pier damage. The date of reconstruction is not known, but would be before about 1799, when J.M.W. Turner painted the bridge with a wider main span.
Starting from the east, the first span is a squared Gothic ribbed arch spanning 7.62m between springings, with a rise of 2.6m. The second span is the largest, a segmental circular arch measuring 17.98m and rising 4.2m. (Probably once two spans of 7.62m with a 2.74m thick pier between.) The next two arches are Gothic and ribbed, spanning 7.6m and 7.7m, and rising 2.47m and 2.56m. The five land spans decrease westwards. From the river, they measure 7.8m, 4.3m, 3m, 3m and 2.9m.
The bridge was widened sometime before 1903, increasing the width by 3.81m on the downstream (south west) side over its full length. The downstream arches are all segmental circular spans, with cutwaters extended in similar style to the original. The single lane carriageway is bounded by solid parapet walls.
In the early 20th century, one of the Gothic river arches was rebuilt, supported on timber centring during repairs. On 28th April 1926, a steam roller demolished the parapet on the outside of the bend on the north bank and it was repaired. The parapets have suffered regular damage from vehicular traffic.
Eadsford Bridge is Grade II listed and carries the B6243 Edisford Road. The east end, within the former metropolitan borough of Clitheroe (Lancashire), was listed in May 1950 and the west end, within the former rural district of Bowland (West Riding of Yorkshire), was listed in November 1954.
Research: ECPK, PHEW
"The Ancient Bridges of the North of England" by E. Jervoise, EP Publishing Ltd, 1973
"The Buildings of England: Lancaster" by Nikolas Pevsner, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1969
"Three Rivers" by J. Lofthouse, Robert Hale Ltd, London 1948
"The Ribble from its Source to the Sea" by F. Riley, John Heywood Ltd, Manchester, 1914
With thanks to David Hurford for additional information

Eadsford Bridge