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Radwell Bridge

Radwell Bridge in 1962 [Z53/48/10]
Radwell Bridge in 1962 [Z53/48/10]

Radwell Bridge was listed by English Heritage in August 1987 as Grade II, of special interest. It was first built in 1766 and rebuilt with an additional arch in 1806 and consists of six courses of limestone rubble with round-headed arches, the third, fourth and fifth from the north being larger. The River Great Ouse spanned by the bridge forms the boundary between the parishes of Milton Ernest and Felmersham, Radwell being a hamlet in the latter parish.

The 1766 bridge was built by Thomas Morris at a cost of £292/10/-, as related by William Marsh Harvey in his 1872 The History and Antiquities of the Hundred of Willey. It was the first bridge on the site, replacing a ford. This bridge comprised five arches, the ones at the south end of the current bridge. Thomas Orlebar Marsh noted that the lime used to stick the stones together was made in Pavenham [BC536].

The Quarter Sessions records indicate that the bridge was not initially maintained by the county and that in 1775 the bridge was "ruinous and in great decay" but an indictment against the county to repair it was dismissed [QSR13/1775/142]. In 1805, however, the Assizes ordered that the county should repair the bridge [QBM1/45] resulting in the addition of an arch to the Radwell side the following year.

There was severe flooding at times in the early 19th century, again recorded by Thomas Orlebar Marsh. Amazingly, in 1821 a man rowed his boat over the top of the bridge! [BC534]. Two years later pieces of oak used as coping for the tops of the walls on either side of the roadway were washed away [BC534]. Finally, the floods of 1831 caused sufficient damage to necessitate rebuilding at a cost of £139/6/- [QBM1/240-241]. Perhaps the small arch to accommodate flood water at the north end of the bridge as added at this time. More repairs were undertaken in 1858 and 1859 [QBM1/395 and 397].