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Henry Bradshawe, in one of his letters dated Marple, 4th January, 1658, speaks of the money "for the workmen intended for the newe buildinge of Otterspoole Bridge."*
Above this point are bridges at Compstall, Broadbottom, and Woolley. That at Broadbottom was erected in 1683. The last to be named on the Mersey is one which is no longer in existence, its site being covered by one of the Manchester Corporation reservoirs. This is Enterclough Bridge, named in an Act passed in 1768 as the terminal point of the Huddersfield and Woodhead turnpike road.
This river has also been dealt with in the former paper on Lancashire, and I will, therefore, merely enumerate its river crossings, viz.: Ford above Stockport; Beet Bridge on the Stockport and Ashton road; Hamnett Ford, Hyde; Dukinfield Old Bridge; Stalybridge. Stalybridge, I may add, takes its name from a bridge which appears to have existed there from an early date. It is mentioned in a list of bridges in Macclesfield Hundred in 1621 as being made by Cheshire and Lancashire, and that it was then in decay. The bridge, which was probably then repaired, existed till 1707, when a new one was erected, which is the one figured by Dr. Aikin in 1795. The stone covering this new bridge was preserved when the present one was erected on its site in 1824, and is now let into one of the walls. It bears an inscription with initials and the date 1707.†
* Earwaker, East Cheshire, ii. 84.
† Ibid, ii. 169.
Retracing our steps down the Mersey or Etherowe to the point where that river
Getteth Goyt down from her Peakish spring,
we ascend the latter stream and, passing Marple Bridge, soon reach that of Windybottom. This "is believed by many," says Dr. Heginbottom,* "to have a Roman origin," and it is often called the Roman Bridge. Probably, however, it is more correctly described as an old packhorse bridge. I do not find any reference to it in books or documents of any great age.
Whaley Bridge is one of the few in the district which, like Stalybridge, have given the name to the adjacent town. It was evidently built in the early part of the sixteenth century. In the recently published will of Roger Jodrell of Yeardsley, dated 1529, we find the following: "Itm towards the makyng of Waleybrigge a stirk." The bridge is shown and named in Saxton's map, and is referred to by Webb in the Vale Royal. Ogilby describes it as "a stone bridge."
Above Whaley is a still existing ford at Taxal, and above that again Goyt's Bridge at Errwood.
The Weaver has the distinction of being the river, par excellence, which Cheshire can claim as all her own. As Drayton not very elegantly expresses it, this is the river
The country in his course that clean through doth divide,
Stockport, ii. 198.
+ Record Society, xxx. 69.
Our first crossing is at Frodsham, which we must not too readily assume to have been Fordsham, for the name in Domesday is "Frotesham," the first syllable being apparently personal. Here we are on the line of the Roman road from Chester to Wilderspool. “That it crossed that river somewhere in this neighbourhood is," says Watkin,* "an undoubted fact." We have traces of a bridge, probably of wood, having existed here from early times. According to Ormerod† it gave name to a family about the reign of Henry III. "Phillip de Pont" occurs, in 1271, in a charter of the Astons, and "Walter del Bridgg," chaplain, in the fourteenth year of Edward III. Apparently, therefore, there was a chapel on the bridge for wayfarers. In the twelfth year of Richard II. Richard de Bruggehowse held a moiety of the estate in Frodsham, called "le brigghouse" in capite. The house appears likely to have been a portalice for the defence of the bridge. For the repair of this bridge, like others we have already come across, "John Done, forester of Delamere," was ordered to give one oak in the fourth year of Henry V. At the beginning of Elizabeth's reign it appears to have been out of repair, for James Benet,§ by his will made in 1559, gave 6s. 8d. to “ye mendinge of Fradsome Bridge," and in 1593 we find the penance to which one William Robinson had been condemned commuted into a money payment of 10s., to be paid to the vicar and churchwardens towards the reparation of Frodsham Bridge.|| Ormerod also tells us that the bridge was rebuilt of brick in the time of Elizabeth. Smith, in the Vale Royal, describes it as "builded most part of brick, the longest bridge in all Cheshire." Webb describes
* Roman Cheshire, 57.
† Ormerod, ii. 53.
Ormerod, ii. 53.
§ Record Society, xxx. 188. | Chester Archæological Society, v. 391.
it as built upon four fair arches, all of stone. This bridge was taken down many years ago to make way for the present stone bridge.
Above Frodsham the Ordnance Map shows Kingsley Ford and a ferry near Dutton. The latter is apparently the "Pickeren's Boat" referred to in the Weaver Navigation Act of 1720 as the limit to which the river was previously navigable.
Next above them comes Acton Bridge. This is on an ancient crossing, on the road from Warrington to Tarporley, and it is noticeable that the road to the north-east is called Street Lane. The bridge is shown on Saxton's map, and is referred to by both Smith and Webb in the Vale Royal.
Saltersford, at which we next arrive, appears at the present day to have no approaches, though Wood Lane from Weaverham is pointing towards it. Watkin* assigns this as the crossing place of a minor Roman road from Crabtree Green.
Winnington Bridge, the next in order, was existing in Webb's time. He describes it as "a fair stone bridge." Here, on the 19th August, 1659, was fought the last battle in the Civil War, Sir George Booth and his Cheshire forces being defeated by Sir John Lambert. Lambert in his letter to Parliament incidentally gives some information about the bridge. "Their next endeavour," he says, "was to secure the bridge, which they had good reason to hope for, in regard the river was unfordable, the bridge narrow, flankered with a strong ditch on the far end and a high hill up which no horse could pass otherwise than along the side in a narrow path."+
Roman Cheshire, 46. + Chester Archæological Society, iii. 299.
At Northwich we reach the Roman military way from Chester to Manchester, which, says Watkin,* "forded the Weaver, but the ford was destroyed in the operations for making the river navigable to Winsford, d. 1720." The first mention of a bridge here is in the twenty-sixth year of Edward III., when there was a commission to Hugh le Frermon (or Feremon) and others to take certain customs for its repair. Our old friend, John Doune (we can recognise him through the different spellings), master forester of Mara, received a warrant from King Richard II., in 1392, for the delivery of timber on the view of Master William de Newehall, the king's carpenter, for the repair of this bridge. In the ninth year of Henry IV. Gruff' le Wright was appointed to make repair, and mend the bridge according to the advice of William de Newehall, master carpenter in the county. The bridge would then be of wood. When it was rebuilt of stone does not appear, but probably some change would be made when the river was made navigable.
The next three crossings betray in their names— Hartford, Bradford, and Winsford-the former mode of crossing. Hartford, which is on a well-marked line of communication east and west, appears in Domesday as Herford. Hartford Bridge is named in the Vale Royal by King. Bradford Grange§ is mentioned in the time of Edward I. Mr. Watkin || sets down a Roman road as having crossed here, and quotes Archdeacon Wood in regard to the finding of Roman antiquities in laying the foundation of the new bridge.
Winsford is also set down as the point of crossing of a
* Roman Cheshire, 42.
+ Helsby's Ormerod, iii. 162
Ormerod, ii. 197.
§ Helsby's Ormerod, iii. 173.
|| Roman Cheshire, 34.