RSP Home River Severn Tales Chris Witts


The Romans settled at various locations along the Severn, or as they named it, Sabrina. They were not bridge builders, but preferred to cross the river by using fords. The Severn name for ford is lode, as for example, Upper Lode, Saxon Lode and Wainlode.

The early bridges that crossed the Severn have not survived the ravages of war, floods and time. Records show that during the 13th century many fine bridges were built. One of the first Severn bridge builders' was William Fitz-Anketill, who in the year 1200 built a bridge at Maisemore, Gloucester. There has been a bridge at Montford, Salop since the 13th century, when even in those days, a toll had to be paid to cross it!

Not all bridges were built for transport. The Birmingham Aqueduct, crossing the river at Bewdley, water runs from the Elan Valley to Birmingham with no pumps on the route! The head of water is great enough to send the water to the Midlands. The other water carrying bridge is at Hampton Loade and is in use by South Staffs Water.

How many people have lost their lives involving the bridges? Certainly during the 1960's seven men were killed were killed as a result of accidents involving shipping and the bridges. One on the Severn Suspension Bridge, five at the Severn Railway Bridge and one at Haw Bridge.

Bewdley has had several bridges on the present site. One built in 1447 was replaced in 1459, which was replaced by a stone one built in 1483. This was damaged by a flood in 1574 and finally swept away by the flood of 1795. Telford replaced it with the present bridge at a cost of £9,000

It was the great floods of 1795 that destroyed most of the Severn bridges. This at a time when the Industrial Revolution was changing the way of life in Britain. It gave the great constructors of that time the opportunity to build iron bridges across the river. Each area had its bridge builder, Thomas Penson at Montgomeryshire, John Gwynne at Shropshire and Thomas Telford being involved with most of the others. Ironically the first iron bridge in the world was not built by any of these men.

Bewdley Bridge

Severn Railway Bridge

Severn Bridges

Photomarine . Sharpness Shipping . Links . Gloucester Shipyard