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Barnstaple Long Bridge
River Taw, Barnstaple, Devon, UK
associated engineer
date  circa 1280
UK era  Medieval  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SS557330
ICE reference number  HEW 1450
Long Bridge is a Grade I listed ancient monument that spans the River Taw at Barnstaple. It was constructed around 1280 as the main river crossing and has been widened at least three times. These days a new road bridge carries the A39, taking the strain off the old structure.
Long Bridge has 16 pointed masonry arches, varying in span from 5.5m to 7.9m. A document refers to repairs in 1333, and the bridge was partially destroyed in 1437 and 1646.
Widening was carried out first in 1796, by constructing segmental arches between the existing cutwaters, or projections against the flow of the water. The bridge was widened further between 1832 and 1834 by James Green, Devonís first County Bridge Surveyor. He installed 1.2m wide footways supported on cantilevered ironwork, supplied by the Neath Abbey Iron Company at a cost of £4,000. The work increased the roadway width to 4.9m.
In 1949, the bridge trustís engineer, R.M. Stone, and contractor, Cementation Company, protected the bridge piers with steel sheet piling and filled the gap between pier and piles with cement grout under pressure. Ownership of Long Bridge passed from the trust to the Department of Transport in 1961.
In 1963, the bridge was widened once more, by consulting engineers Posford, Pavry and Partners with Cementation again as contractor. The works widened the upstream side of the structure only. On the downstream side, the 1834 ironwork was removed and masonry parapets constructed so that the bridge appears as it was between 1796 and 1832. The result was two 1.8m wide footways flanking a 7.3m wide carriageway.
In 1989, the new road bridge was constructed over the River Taw, some 1.5km south (upstream) of Long Bridge, which carries the A39.
Bridge widening engineering (1834): James Green
Structural repair engineering (1949): R.M. Stone
Bridge widening engineering (1963): Posford, Pavry and Partners
Main contractor (1949, 1963): Cementation
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH South

Barnstaple Long Bridge