Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,367 pages of information and 245,906 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Bedminster Bridge

From Graces Guide
JD Bedminster01.jpg
Very fine foundrywork evident on the 'rope-themed' cast iron side panels
JD Bedminster Br01.jpg

The bridge carries a road over the River Avon (New Cut - see Bristol Harbour)

The scheme for constructing a bridge to supersede the present Bedminster Bridge has now advanced into what may be called the practical stage. There had been discussions in the Town Council with reference to the advisability of patching up the existing structure, and there had been frequent meetings of the inhabitants in that part of the city more immediately affected, which the determination not to rest satisfied with any improvement to the old bridge was expressed; and after receiving exhaustive report by Thomas Howard, engineer to the Docks Committee, the Corporation ultimately decided to have an entirely new bridge. The undertaking had therefore gone beyond discussion, and the plans and specifications for constructing the bridge are ready for inspection by those desirous to contract for the work.
In arranging for a structure to supersede the existing one, it was necessary to consider the defects of the present bridge, so that they should not be perpetuated.
The water way is 100 ft. clear between Redcliff Hill and Bedminster Parade, and Mr. Howard when he reported in September, 1880, arrived at the following conclusions:— That the present bridge may, as regards strength, be considered in as good a condition as when it was first erected, and that it would continue to carry safely the ordinary traffic it does at present. That it is not well adapted to stand the shock of any breakdown on the road, and that extraordinarily heavy loads cannot with prudence be allowed to pass over. Farther, that it is especially ill-adapted to withstand the effect of a side blow on the arched ribs from the river. That though some further improvement in the strength might be made to the bridge by substituting wrought iron for the present cast iron girders and other portions, yet such alterations would still leave the existing main ribs of their present light character, and that from the comparatively light nature of the structure generally compared with heavy passing loads the bridge will be always subject to considerable and unpleasant vibrations. That the tramway traffic will not be detrimental to the safety of the bridge. That from personal observation, the width of the bridge appears be inadequate for the convenient and comfortable passing of the traffic over it, and that in a city where great efforts are madeto widen connecting streets, it is a pressing question for the Corporation; whether this important highway should not be made of adequate width, and at the same time the question of its stability under tho heaviest loads be placed beyond uncertainty and doubt.
The new bridge will be constructed under the supervision of Frederick Ashmead, engineer and surveyor to the Sanitary Authority; and in accordance with a resolution of the Town Council, a temporary bridge [see Langton Street footbridge ] will be first constructed for the convenience of foot passengers, as with so important a district as Bedminster it would be very detrimental to communication with the other portions of the city were delayed even for a short time. This temporary structure will be of iron, 10 feet wide, and about 26 feet from the present bridge, in the direction of St. Luke's Church, so as to allow room for erecting a certain portion of the permanent bridge, because it is intended to build part of the new bridge to a width of 18 feet, in order that it may accommodate carriage traffic before taking down any part of the original bridge. There will thus be no interference with either vehicles or foot passengers while the undertaking progress. The temporary footbridge will likewise answer another purpose besides accommoding pedestrians; will carry the pipes of the Waterworks Company, which at present cross the river in rather unsightly manner on the eastern aide of the bridge, it would not even for a short delay be permitted to interfere with the water supply of Bristol. The temporary bridge is being constructed by Messrs. Finch and Co, Chepstow, and it is intended to fix it on the 28th of March. The permanent bridge will be commodious and handsome, of the same width as New Baldwin Street, having a carriage way 40 feet wide and two footpaths each 10 feet wide. It will thus be considerably wider than the present bridge, and compare favourably with Bath Boad Bridge. The widths of Bath Boad Bridge are two footways each 6 feet 2 inches, with a roadway of 30 feet 6 inches; and of Bedrninster Bridge two footways 4 feet 2 inches each, and a roadway 21 feet 2 inches. Bristol Bridge is somewhat wider than the new Bedminster structure, s a width of 42 feet in the roadway, and one path 11 feet 6 inches, and the other 11 feet. The present Bedminster Bridge, as Howard says, may really be regarded aa a narrow street, having the duty of receiving over it, with the exception of the ferries, all the concentrated traffic passing from all the ' streets on one side of the river to the other, from halfway between Bedminster and Bath Bridges to the Hotwells.
The new bridge will extend over the site of the present water-pipes, and be a little beyond the existing bridge on the gaol side, in order that there shall be a straight line of thoroughfare from Redcliff Hill to Bedminster Parade. Entirely new abutments of penant stone are being made, and they will be somewhat of the character of those at the Bath Boad Bridge. There will be 10 girders, of which five are to be constructed first, in order that carriage traffic may be acconimodated while the remainder of the bridge is built. The waterpipes will no longer offend the eye by their position at the side of the bridge, but provision is to be made for conveying them between the girders. The camber perceptible in the present structure will fortunately be wanting in the new bridge, which is to be only one foot higher in the middle than at either end, an advantage certain to be appreciated by those who have experience of the existing bridge, which possesses the peculiarity that the springing of the arch on the Bedminster side is a little lower than that on the Redcliff side, and this must have been built so, as there is no sign of any movement or settlement. The outside upper T girder on the lower side of the bridge appears a little flat for about 20 feet in the middle, probably caused by a variation in the cooling of so long and light a casting, and does not affect the strength. The original transit of these long light castings from Shropshire to their erection over the river must have been no bad test of their quality. The new bridge will have wrought iron girders, with ornamental cast iron railings, cornice, and plinth. Those desirous to contract for the work have to forward their tenders to the Streets Improvement Committee on or before the 21st of March, and it is expected that the bridge will be erected eighteen months or two years from that date.' [1]

Built in 1883 to replace a narrow, steep cast iron bridge built in 1803.

Structural wrought ironwork by Finch and Co of Chepstow. Iron castings made by Cochrane and Co, Dudley. Masonry by Brock and Bruce.[2]

Neighbours and Predecessors

The present Bedminster Bridge replaced Harfords or Harford's Bridge, a cast iron arch bridge built by the Coalbrookdale Co. Immediately adjacent to this was a water pipe bridge. See here.

Bath Road Bridge is a short distance upstream. The present concrete bridge replaced an iron bridge, which in turn replaced the cast iron Hills or Hill's Bridge which collapsed in 1855 as a result of being struck by a barge. Photos here.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Western Daily Press - Tuesday 21 February 1882, via the British Newspaper Archive (
  2. Bristol Mercury - Wednesday 14 June 1882