Norwich – Blackfriars Bridge

There has been a bridge across the Wensum River at this site since St Margaret Newebrigge was constructed in 1289. It was replaced with a stone bridge in 1587 and then a more substantial stone bridge in 1783. This latter bridge was needed as the previous construction had three narrow arches which was causing problems with the current of the river. The bridge is also sometimes known as St. George’s Bridge, and in the past, New Bridge.

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I didn’t take a photo of the actual bridge, but this is the one from Wikipedia until I do take one….. The current bridge is the 1783 bridge, built by John de Carle, designed by Sir John Soane and made with Portland stone with iron balustrades on the side.

Photo: © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and there are some more images at http://collections.soane.org/OBJECT1804. This is Soane’s design and at the bottom right is the signature of John de Carle, the local builder. The bridge cost £1,250 and the design means that the stones are tightened together by use of the iron clamps.

This bridge was only fully pedestrianised a few years ago, although there was once a separate iron footbridge on one side which was removed in the 1970s when single direction traffic only was implemented.

The bridge was one of the earlier constructions designed by Soane, who is better known today for designing the Bank of England, although there’s not much left of his work there. Soane put in a design for the Hellesdon Bridge in 1785, clearly hopeful after the success of the Blackfriars Bridge, but the design by James Frost was chosen instead.

The view to the east from the bridge, the building to the right is the Norwich University of the Arts.

And a view to the west, with the building to the left also being part of the Norwich University of the Arts and Dukes Palace Wharf behind that.