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Wadebridge Ancient Bridge
River Camel, Wadebridge, Cornwall
associated engineer
Rev. John Lovibond
Posford, Pavry & Partners
date  1460 - before 1478, 1962
era  Medieval  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SW991724
ICE reference number  HEW 882
The town now known as Wadebridge was once just Wade, or Wyeth-ford, until a bridge was built — on the site of an old ford that was considered dangerous. The bridge united the parishes of Egloshayle and St Breock, on either side of the River Camel.
Bridge construction was begun in 1460 on the instructions of John Lovibond, vicar of Egloshayle, with John de Harlyn as the contractor. It was completed by 1478, in which year it is mentioned in William of Worcester’s itinerary. It is likely that the bridge was paid for by the profits from the wool trade, although legend has it that the bridge was actually founded on bales of wool sunk to create stable bases for the foundations. The bridge was so important that Oliver Cromwell and 1,500 soldiers commandeered it during the Civil War.
As built, the masonry bridge consisted of 17 pointed arches, including two smaller spans at each end, and covered a length of some 98m. It was nearly 3m wide.
In 1853, the downstream side of the bridge was widened under the direction of William Pease, then Surveyor of Bridges for the eastern division of Cornwall. Extra width was found by adding 1m wide segmental arches out from the existing cutwaters (triangular projections that help resist the strength of the river flow).
By 1962 the bridge carried the A39 trunk road and major widening works were required. The upstream side was widened by more than 6m on behalf of the Ministry of Transport to a design by Posford, Pavry & Partners. The work comprised precast reinforced concrete ribs, with piers and spandrel walls masonry faced to Ancient Monument standards. The new arch work is supported on six 600mm diameter bored piles per pier.
Further works were carried out in 1974 and 1994. The bridge is now 11m wide and although some 13 of the old pointed arches remain, they can be seen only from the river.
Stonemason: John de Harlyn
Research: ECPK
"Cornish Place Names & Language" by C. Weatherhill
Sigma Leisure, Cheshire, 1995
reference sources   CEH South

Wadebridge Ancient Bridge