I have edited and coloured this original image from my archive. I would say about 1900 because there are no tram lines in the road. The large building to the far right is Bridge House. It’s still there but tucked away beside the Deller’s Building which was added later. That actually made the bridge shorter.
The bridge was built in 1894 as a three span wrought iron girder bridge supported on cast iron columns. The cast iron girders and bridge deck were replaced by steel girders 1936 – 38 but the cast iron parapets and lamp standards were retained. Today’s bridge is probably close to where a medieval wooden bridge spanned the river by 1280 most likely replacing a ford in the river at that point. Until later in Victorian times an island was located just downstream of the bridge. The island was planted with trees by William Trood, manure manufacturer, of Bridge House in 1864. He also intoduced swans to the river.
A narrow masonary bridge of six arches was replaced in 1810 by a bridge of two arches with a rebuild in 1834 adding another arch to alleviate flooding. During the rebuild a stoneware bottles was found containing this message-
“This centre arch was erected at the expense of The Taunton and Bridgwater Canal Company and the first stone was laid on Thursday the 29th May in the year of our Lord 1834 “.
The bridge remained narrow at the centre and as North Town grew in response to the opening of the railway station in 1842 proved to be inadequate for the increased traffic it carried. The new bridge built in 1894 cost £7,000 and was built from a design by J.H. Smith the Borough Surveyor. The structure was put to extreme test in 1960 when timber from the yard upstream jammed under it during the extreme flooding of the town.
To the right can be seen shop canopy supports at Belben Brothers six and a half pence bazaar which were located in little cups at the kerb. Bridge House carries the name of Henry Corner and Co, woollen manufacturer. The ladies fashion is of interest. Ankle length skirts at a time when all decent ladies dressed smartly to come into town. On a sunny day the ladies carry a parasol and of course everyone has a hat.
By Nick Chipchase