Langdale bridges

I am just going to add a few notes that I have found about the Langdale bridges and hope that anyone with more information will get in touch.

1673 7 October. John Holme to Daniel Fleming reporting that the bridge at Elterwater needs repairs to the amount of £45.
I didn’t post pictures of the main Elterwater Bridge but here it is. £45 in 1673 must have been a huge sum and my guess is the repairs were never done since the bridge was in need of rebuilding 29 years later.
1702 17 April. Elterwater Bridge, being a public bridge, is much in decay; Order to the chief constable of Kendall Ward, Mr. Sawrey, Leonard Benson, Benj. Browne and Reginald Brathwaite to view the same with assistance of workmen and give an estimate on 9 May. (K. Order Book, 1696–1724). The referees and workmen who viewed Elterwater Bridge in Langdale report that it is absolutely necessary to erect a new bridge in stead thereof with an estimated cost of £35; ordered that the chief constables of Kendall and Lonsdale Wards and the viewers of the bridge contract with an able workman to rebuild the bridge and make the same very substantial with a large and high arch, and to give security for maintaining the same for 7 years after building it.
I am not sure if this rebuild took place but looking underneath the brisge we can clearly see that it was originally built a little wider than the pack horse bridges and later widened to it’s present width which takes the road.
1711/12 18 January. Presentment that Elterwater and Colwith Bridges are in decay; order for a report from the chief constable. (K. Order Book, 1696–1724). On the 2nd May following the constable reported that at Elterwater Bridge the pavement must be raised from the key-stone to the hole that carries in the water at the bridge end which is in length 8 yards, and if the water should be turned, that the bridge may not be damnified, it should be paved further 18 yards, besides some pinning up of the butments of each end that are wanting.
This is a rather nice full specification for a new bridge. I have not heard of using hot lime mortar before.
1720/1 13 January. Presentment that the highway at Coom beck in Wrynose is in decay and that it is necessary that a stone bridge be erected there for the safety of passengers; order for a view and a report on the cost. (K. Order Book, 1696–1724). On 24 July, 1721, Robert and William Robinson entered into a bond to erect and build a new good and firm stone bridge over a river or water called Com beck which doth cross the public highway on Wrynose a little below the ford, to consist of one bend or arch and to be shot over with good choice stones called penn stones, and the said arch when shot and keyed to be filled, closed and covered with good and strong, pouring and hot porrage mortar made of hot lime. The battlements or ledges to be near twelve inches in breadth or thickness and eighteen inches high above the pavement and set with good and choice penn stones, the said battlements on the lower side to be 15 yards in length and on the higher side to be 10 yards at the least. The pavement to be made easy and gradually ascending and descending at the end thereof for carriage and passengers. To complete the said work on or before 24 August next ensuing. The undertakers will from time to time as often as shall be requisite and necessary well and sufficiently repair, maintain and uphold the said new bridge for and during the full end and term of seven years, etc. In consideration whereof, Benjamin Browne on the behalf of all the inhabitants of the Barony covenants to pay unto the said Robert the full sum of £5 when all the said work should be completed and approved by the said high constable.
It is interesting that it was clearly the responsibility of the locals to upkeep the bridges and roads.
1770 23 April. Presentment that there is a certain common and ancient Pack and Prime way leading from the village of Great Langdale to the village of Ambleside, and that a certain part of the said Pack and Prime way, beginning at a certain place called Baysbrown and extending to Elterwater, and containing in length one mile and in breadth 4 yards, was and yet is very ruinous, etc., and that the inhabitants of the township of Great Langdale ought to repair the same. K. Indictment Book, 1760–70.
And here is the first mention of the new bridge in poor repair in 1790 so I think we can be sure that the bridge widening of the valley took place well over 200 years ago and that the original pack horse bridges may be 100-150 years older
1790 Presentment that Langdale New Bridge is one of the public bridges belonging to the county and that the 300 feet of the road at each of the ends are in great decay for want of due reparation, and that the said bridge and approaches ought to be repaired at the public expense, when and so often as need shall require. K. Minute Book.


2 Responses to Langdale bridges

  1. William de Wyke August 11, 2009 at 8:33 pm #

    Thank you for posting that, it was an interesting read. The mention of hot lime mortar reminded me of a special episode on the National Trust conservation of Ightam Mote in Kent that Time Team did, which included making quicklime plaster. There was so much heat generated when the lime was added to the water trough that it set the whole trough to boiling for quite some time.The episode is available on DVD and is worth watching if you can track it down. There are some serious drawbored pinned joints in use in the ceiling joists.

  2. William de Wyke August 11, 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    Re-reading this:"and the said arch when shot and keyed to be filled, closed and covered with good and strong, pouring and hot porrage mortar made of hot lime." I wonder if that means they lime plastered the whole bridge when it was done, as they did with the stonework on medieval castles. That would look rather magnificent when it was new.

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