Norwich – St. Miles Bridge

St Miles Bridge is the oldest iron bridge in the city (and according to the Institute of Civil Engineers – and I hope Liam is pleased that I mention them) it’s also the oldest in the area. I will quote the ICE as their explanation sounds a bit technical for me:

“This bridge was constructed only 25 years after the world’s first at Ironbridge in Shropshire. Its construction owes much to carpentry. Designed by James Frost, it is built of iron plates and ribs which were cast in a foundry next to the bridge. These were joined together with mortise and tenon joints which were “glued” with molten lead. During construction, this “new” technology may not have been trusted. The cast iron arch ribs were reinforced with a hidden brick arch which was
discovered during refurbishment works in the 1990s.”

The bridge on a map from the 1870s, the iron works is the large building to the top right and at the bottom right is Bullards Brewery. As can be seen on the photo at the top of this page, there are flood markers visible which indicate just how high the water has come. George Plunkett took a photo from nearly the same spot in 1934.

A view from the bridge of the River Wensum and what is now much less of an industrial landscape than it was once was.

This is used by the fire service if they need to get water from the river.

This fine looking structure, which is now a residential property, was part of the large Bullards Anchor Brewery.

There’s another reminder of that nearby.

This information plaque is located on the bridge, giving a brief history of the origins of the Coslany name. This is also relevant here as the bridge has often been known as Coslany Bridge. The first bridge on this spot was a wooden structure that was constructed at the end of the twelfth century (making it one of the oldest bridged river crossings in Norwich), which was replaced by a stone structure in 1521. It must have been quite a brave decision to use iron to replace that stone, especially given what ICE mentioned about how new the technology was, but it seems to have lasted rather well.