Swans on the River Brue

Vicarage Bridge

Bridge Name:   Vicarage Bridge
No.:   15
Location:   SS 9061 3517
Build Date:   1835
Engineer:   Reconstructed by Edward J Stead, County Surveyor, and built by G B Fisher and Sons.
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A three-arched road bridge over the River Exe built in 1835 for the turnpike, bypassing the packhorse bridge to the west. It was widened in 1927-8 and restored in 1952.

Vicarage Bridge was an old stone bridge in medieval tradition, which was strengthened and widened in 1928, the old masonry being reinstated in the elevation. (Jervoise says it was pulled down and replaced). Probably originally 15th-16th century . It is in good condition, the width of carriageway and verges 15m. Listed Grade 11. Picturesque stone bridge, probably of medieval origin but reconstructed in 1928. Stone parapets, segmental-pointed main arch, 2 similar smaller arches, 2 cutwater buttresses each side rising to parapet height. Ancient Monument. Reconstructed by Edward J Stead, County Surveyor, and built by G B Fisher and Sons. Local stone random rubble, large central arch between full height pointed cutwaters on C19 foundations, flanked by 2 smaller decreasing arches separated by brief cutwater; arches on up stream front slightly pointed in central 3 bays, down stream side allarches semi-circular. Parapets set back irregularly on either side. Central pointed recess flanking road in manner of pack horse bridges.C oncrete plaque on inner face of parapet inscribed 'Somerset County Council', below ashlar stone inscribed 'Edward J Stead AMICE County Surveyor'. The bridge was built for the turnpike road by-passing the packhorse bridge (about 10 metres to the west. Scheduled Ancient Monument (Somerset County No 228).Scheduled monument. Listed grade II.1

At Winsford the River Exe was until recently crossed by a stone bridge with three pointed arches, which carried the road to Exford. During the construction of the new trunk road the bridge, which was 15 feet wide, was pulled down to make way for one designed to carry heavier traffic. It was difficult to determine the age of the old bridge. Its arches were pointed in shape and quite in the medieval tradition, and one cut-water on each side had a recess for foot passengers. In the parish books for Winsford for the year 1731 there is a reference to "the new bridge over the River Exe" which very possibly referred to this bridge. On the 6 inch ordnance survey map the bridge is shown as Vicarage Bridge, but no name is given to the pack-horse bridge situated only a short distance away. It is doubtful if a cart bridge was necessary before the year 1731 and the bridge which was reported to the Quarter Sessions of 1628 as having been recently "re-edificed" may have been the present pack-horse bridge. At the sessions the bridge was described as the "Viccaridge Bridge lyeing within the parish of Winsford." The reported damage was reported to have been caused "by the violence of the waters" but the total cost of the works was only 5 13s 11d. The pack-horse bridge has two lofty semicircular arches being a total span of about 30 feet. The width between the parapets is 3 feet 6 inches.2

Strengthened and widened in 1928 by Messrs G.B.Fisher & sons of Dulverton to the design of Mr. E. J.Stead, county Surveyor of Somerset, at a cost of 1452. The arches were strengthened with reinforced concrete saddles and widened portion constructed of reinforced concrete arches and abutments."3

References:   1. Exmoor National Park HER MSO8542
2. THe Ancient Bridges of the South of England - Jervoise
3. British Bridges Public Works, Roads and Transport Congress 1933

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