Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Magdalene Bridge

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Magdalene Bridge over the river Cam in Cambridge is a cast iron structure built in 1823. It replaced a masonry bridge built by James Essex in 1754.

The 44 ft span iron bridge was designed by Norwich architect Arthur Browne, and Benjamin Bevan was involved in overseeing the design and construction. There are eight arch ribs cast in halves, and cast iron plates seated on the bottom flanges of the ribs supported the roadway infill. Over time the dead weight forced the abutments apart causing sagging at the crown, so in the early 1980s a steel frame was built withing the cast iron trough.[1]

The ribs were cast in Derbyshire by the Butterley Co, while other castings came from the local foundry of Charles Finch.[2]

An unusual feature is the inclusion of ornamentation on the underside of the deck plates (Photo 3). In Photo 2, the contrast between the rough surface of the spandrel infill plates and the decorative mouldings suggests that the latter were cast separately and attached by rivets or screws.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Civil Engineering Heritage', edited by E A Labrum, Thomas Telford Ltd, 1994
  2. 'The Iron Bridge' by Neil Cossons & Barrie Trinder, Phillimore & Co, 2002