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British Industrial History

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Gingerbread Hall Bridge

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This entry refers to a now-demolished bridge which carried the Chelmsford-Southend road over a small stream at Great Baddow, Essex. Built in 1870, demolished in 1936. The bridge was of the cast-iron girder type, with an arched underside.

1870 'Re-opening of Gingerbread Hall Bridge. — This new bridge at Great Baddow, which has been erected by the Chelmsford Highway Board, was opened for traffic on Monday week. It is 17 feet wide between the iron railings, or feet wider than the old tumbledown structure which it has superseded. It is built of brick and iron, the work having been carried out under the superintendence of Mr. Whitmore, the surveyor to the board, by the following contractors: —Brickwork, Mr. James Patten, Great Baddow; ironwork, Messrs. Coleman and Morton, Chelmsford; stonework, Mr. Wray, Springfield. The public will we are sure appreciate the great improvement which the Highway Board have been instrumental in carrying out, the cost of which has been paid partly by Mr. J. A. Houblon, the lord of the manor, and the remainder by subscriptions raised by committee. To pedestrians the lengthening of the approaches will be of great advantage, as after heavy rains the old road was often impassable.'[1]

1936 'SCIENTIFIC RECORD. 3 of 12 Doomed Structures Gone
Slow-motion pictures are being made scientific records of the bridge-breaking tests by the Ministry of Transport on old structures various parts of the country (says a "Daily Telegraph" correspondent).
For more than a year a staff of experts have been deliberately destroying obsolete bridges by placing heavy loads of pig lead on them until they collapsed. The films show the gradual smashing of the bridges as the load is increased from two tons to about 40 tons.
Already three of the bridges doomed have been smashed. They were the Croft Bridge, near Derby; Yardley Wood Bridge, near Birmingham: and Gingerbread Hall Bridge, Chelmsford.
During the experiments readings been taken of the deformation of the arch by weight and of strains.' [2]

Photos of the bridge during demolition show numerous pigs (lead, according to the 1936 article) placed on beams above the bridge, against which a jack reacted. [3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Essex Herald, 4 October 1870
  2. Yorkshire Evening Post - Friday 13 November 1936
  3. A History of Cast Iron in Architecture by John Gloag and Derek Bridgwater, George Allen and Unwin