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13 November 2014

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You are in: Cumbria > History > History links > Flood memories: Langwathby Bridge 1968

barrier at Langwathby bridge

Barrier at Langwathby bridge

Flood memories: Langwathby Bridge 1968

Sunday March 25th, the day Langwathby Bridge disappeared. The big flood of 1968 washed away the sandstone bridge. The temporary replacement still stands 37 years later.....

The rain and storms of January 2005 brought flooding and devastation to many people in Cumbria.

The River Eden, which helped to cause the flooding in Carlisle when it burst its banks, flows through the Eden Valley.

Langwathby is one of the villages which lie on the banks of the River Eden. 37 years ago the Eden flooded and swept away the sandstone bridge which carried traffic on the trans-Pennine route through to Penrith.

Joan Armstrong visited Langwathby and chatted to residents of the village about their memories of the floods in 1968 and the rebuilding of the temporary bridge.

Bill Birkbeck is one of the oldest residents in Langwathby. Bill was a forester for Eden Hall Estates in 1968. He lived in Langwathby and remembers the flood and the events leading up to the old bridge disappearing.

"I was on the bridge just after midnight there were two Ribble buses parked on the bridge but they had to back off they couldn't get through the water. I went back on the Sunday morning and the bridge had gone."

New bridge brings down an old one

"They were building a new bridge for the M6 up at Brougham and the floods had torn down the scaffolding .There were planks thirty feet long and a foot square and they caused a great jam at Langwathby bridge."

"I worked on the opposite side of the river and my wife used to take me to work round by Culgaith. Then, later on, the gamekeeper brought a boat down and we used to cross the river in the boat. We went from the landing stage at StrathEden. There was me, the gamekeeper and two girls that looked after the poultry."

A twenty ton concrete block

"When they rebuilt the bridge they had to start from the Penrith side. They put in a huge concrete block in a field on the Langwathby side. You can still see it. Then they used the block as an anchor to winch the sections of bridge across. They built it up piece by piece."

Christine Peet remembers an unusual Mothers day:

"Our son, Simon, is 37 on March 15 and that's how I remember the date the bridge was washed away. Sunday March 25, 1968, that year was Mothers Day. We'd come home from hospital on the Friday."

"Our neighbour next door came through and asked if we'd like to go down and see the floods. She baby sat and Jim and I went down to the bridge. It was funny really just a big gaping hole, and a bit of stone on both sides and just this mass of water going right down and covering all the field, it was eerie."

Have you any memories of the day the bridge at Langwathby disappeared in 1968? Do you have any pictures of the original bridge or stories about the rebuilding of the new bridge? Tell us your story using the online form below ... or send your images to


last updated: 18/01/2010 at 10:50
created: 17/01/2005

Have Your Say

Have you any personal memories of the floods which took away Langwathby bridge in 1968?

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roger greaves
I stood on the edge of the tarmac (penrith side)that morning and looked across to langwathby - no old sand stone bridge any more !

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