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28 October 2014

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You are in: Gloucestershire > Coast > Point 5 - Over Bridge

Over Bridge at Gloucester

Point 5 - Over Bridge

Stand on top of this disused bridge to get a "bird's eye view" of Gloucester and the surrounding countryside, and discover all about another historic river crossing...

The magnificent stone bridge you're standing on was designed by the famous Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford.

Telford based its single span on a 1768 design by French architect Jean-Rudolphe Perronet for the bridge over the River Seine at Neuilly, near Paris.

Over Bridge

Telford's famous bridge

It was completed in 1829 and replaced an old 16th century eight-arch bridge that had been damaged by ice in 1818 (which stood a short distance to the South, roughly where the modern railway bridge is now).

Look carefully along the line of the bridge parapet. You'll see that it's not flat, but it "dips" slightly in the middle. This is because the crown of the bridge "sank" by about 25cm (10 inches) when the temporary frame used in its construction was removed. 

Telford, understandably, wasn't happy with this. He freely admitted that he was at fault in providing inadequate support for the thrust of the bridge, and it's said he regretted the error for the rest of his life.

Parapet of Over Bridge

Look out for the sunken bridge parapet

Rather than repair or improve the bridge it was decided to leave it alone to see if it would sink any further. After three years there had been no further movement and it was declared safe to use, and so it opened in 1832.

It then remained in use to heavy traffic for more than 140 years! Telford's bridge was used right up until 1974 when the new road bridge to the north was opened, and today it remains open to pedestrians. It's now preserved as the oldest large-span masonry road bridge remaining in England.

This point is approximately half way round the route. If you're in need of refreshments you may wish to head to The Wharf House at Over Canal Basin which can be seen from the bridge looking North. The Wharf House has recently been opened by a group of volunteers who are restoring the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal. Go back to where you just turned off the footpath along the side of the main road and follow the cycle path signs to Highnam going under the main road. The Wharf House can be found a short distance away, after turning right into Horseshoe Drive.

At this point wheelchair users or buggy pushers will have to retrace their route back along the main road to the large road junction and set of traffic lights which you passed after visiting Point 4. Here turn right and follow the footpath along the road for about 1km and take a right turn just before you get to the new road bridge along the cycle path to end up at Point 8 on this walk.

To carry on with the main route, continue over Telford's bridge and walk down the steep embankment which descends to the river level below. Follow the path at the bottom to the right which takes the route south along the side of the river towards the next stopping point - the Lower Parting, taking care on the uneven surface.

last updated: 16/07/2008 at 12:27
created: 08/07/2005

You are in: Gloucestershire > Coast > Point 5 - Over Bridge

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