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St Saviour's Bridge
River Otter, Mill Street, Ottery St. Mary, Devon, UK
St Saviour's Bridge
associated engineer
Not known
date  1851
UK era  Victorian  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SY092952
ICE reference number  HEW 947
photo  courtesy Graces Guide to British Industrial History
A cast iron single span road bridge over the River Otter on a site that has not been without a bridge since the 14th century. The Grade II listed bridge we see today has been restored and is in daily use.
A bridge has stood on the site of the present St Saviour's Bridge since at least 1355, according to the register of John de Grandisson (1292-1369), Bishop of Exeter in 1327-69. Grandisson restored St Maryís church (consecrated 1260) in the town of Ottery and established a collegiate foundation here in 1338. Apparently, he also constructed a chapel on the bridge, dedicated to St Mary.
In late 1849, a flood destroyed the old bridge and severely damaged the next downstream bridge at Tipton St John, south of Ottery St Mary. Temporary repairs were effected at Ottery by installing a footbridge costing £13, followed by a timber bridge for use by carriages costing £108 13s (£108.65).
The present permanent road bridge was constructed in 1851, spanning 25.3m between masonry abutments and with granite coping and terminal piers. Its single span arch consists of five segmental rib girders of cast iron, at 1.52m centres, supporting cast iron trays on which the deck is carried. Each I-section rib rise 737mm deep, with 203mm wide flanges and made in three sections.
The spandrel panels feature Gothic arcading realised in cast iron, as are the original parapet railings. The parapets were originally 6.3m apart, enclosing a carriageway 4.7m wide, a north-side footway of 1.2m and a south-side kerb of 356mm. The total cost of the bridge was £2,550 ó £1,200 for the ironwork and £1,350 for the masonry abutments and wingwalls.
At the centre of the arch on both sides are cast iron plates inscribed "Joseph Butler & Co Stanningley Iron Works Nr Leeds 1851". In its engineering design, the bridge resembles railway bridges at Thornhill near Dewsbury in Yorkshire, constructed in 1847 by the same contractor.
In 1992, Devon County Council widened the St Saviour's Bridge by extending the abutments, moving the southern arch rib outwards and inserting six steel universal beams between the ribs to carry the full weight of a new reinforced concrete deck.
The new steel beams are 26.28m long, 914mm x 305mm in section, and carry the new deck through shear connectors. Three beams were inserted between the northern four arches, with three more installed on new, widened, south abutments. The southern cast iron arch was unbolted into its three parts and re-erected as the south fascia arch, hiding the new beams from view.
The new masonry-faced concrete abutments are founded on 600mm cast-in-place piles, 8m long. Additional masonry facing was prepared by reusing the removed original masonry, cutting it into blocks 300mm thick.
New steel parapet railings to Department of Transport standard were added just inside the existing cast iron ones, which are not robust enough for modern highway traffic or pedestrian crowds. The north side footway is now 1.5m wide and the two-lane carriageway 6.5m wide.
A new plaque erected on the refurbished bridge records its reopening date as 10th July 1992. In November 2001, the bridge was Grade II listed. It is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It carries the B3174 road, previously the A30 trunk road before the town's bypass was built.
Upstream (north east) of St Saviourís Bridge are four three-arch masonry or brick bridges by engineer James Green (1781-1849). Downstream two more can be seen.
Contractor: Joseph Butler & Company, Stanningly Ironworks, Leeds
Contactor (1992): Dean & Dyball Construction Ltd
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH South

St Saviour's Bridge