The History of Britain’s Bridges

The Romans have a reputation for coming up with amazing bridges. They used wood to construct most of the British bridges although none of them are in existence. These bridges extended over some of the most iconic rivers, cliffs and bridges and have also been present for centuries. These architectural marvels come with some fascinating stories and are top tourist’s attractions. Below are some of the historic British bridges.

Testwood Bridge, Hampshire

In 1998, two parallel timber rows were discovered by archaeologists, symbolising what remained of the ancient bridge in Britain. It is found at Teswoood Lakes in Hampshire. This bridge extends up to 72 feet, and its carbon dating places its construction to 1500BC.

Tarr Steps, Exmoor, 1000BC

Measuring 60 yards, this is considered the longest clapper bridge to have ever existed in the British Isles. This bridge has humongous slabs. Its history dates back to 3,000 years ago.

London Bridge

Once the Romans departed from Britain in AD 410, all their bridges collapsed and, once again, fords became the common means of crossing rivers. However, from the 10th to the 12th century, there was a transformation age of bridge construction when William the Conqueror assumed power. The London Bridge had previously been constructed and re-built using timber up until 1179. It was turned to a stone bridge; the first ever in the history of Britain.

Tower Bridge, London

This London iconic bridge is twin-towered and features red, white and blue colours. The bridge was commissioned in 1894 and added to the 1977’s Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It has two bascules that have been raised to accommodate taller river traffic that happens 1,000 times every year. This is a must-see spectacle for any adventurous person.

Iron Bridge, Shropshire

During the 18th century, the cost of producing iron dropped dramatically thanks to Abraham Darby. This led to the construction of the world’s first ever cast iron bridge. It was constructed using the iron that was made in a blast furnace found just nearby.

The Rolling Bridge

This unfolding London bridge is not comparable to any other. It has a beautiful secret; every Friday, the bridge lifts and curls up at midday, forming an octagon. This allows boats to pass underneath it. It has style, practicality and oozes innovation all the work of Thomas Heatherwick who is famed for the new Routemaster bus. A fact about this bridge is that it was built on the Suxxex coast and floated its way up to London, sitting on the Grand Union Canal where it is found now.

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland

The British bridge builders made reinforced concrete their preferred construction material from mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. One of the best examples of a bridge made from reinforced concrete is the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It is famous due to its appearance in Harry Potter movies. What this bridge lacks in beauty, it compensates in practicality as that is what most builders opted for. Steam trains pass by this bridge passing through the world most scenic route which spans from Fort William to Mallaig.

Bailey Bridge, Ford Green

The bridge was developed by Donald Bailey who had an inkling of making different models. During the World War II, the Bailey bridges could easily be transported and assembled with the help of simple hand tools. They played a big role in helping the Allies win the war. The bridge was erected in 1946.

Severn Bridge, Avon

Britons were the first people to come up with the concept of suspension bridges in the early 1800s. Although there are many across Britain, Seven Bridge with its pure lines tops them all. Their construction was completed in 1966.

All this has shown how the construction of the British bridges evolved from timber to the current majestic bridges. These bridges carry a lot of history with them too.

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