« PreviousContinue »
Roman road*-that from Chester to Kinderton. bridge is shown in Saxton's map and referred to by Smith in the Vale Royal. Randle Pickmere, of Middlewich, by his will, dated 1525, bequeathed to "Wynnsforthe Bridge" 3s. 4d.t
Higher up the river we reach Church Minshull, at which place a bridge is shown by Saxton and referred to by Webb. Higher up again is another Stanford Bridge, mentioned by Webb, and placed by Watkin‡ on the line of a Roman road from Kinderton towards Nantwich, Then we come to Beam Bridge, which, it is said, was built in Elizabeth's reign, after Nantwich had been destroyed by fire, and to enable the townsmen to bring from the forest of Delamere the oaks which the queen had given them permission to fell to enable them to rebuild their town.
When the Royalists besieged Nantwich in January, 1643, they found Beam Bridge, "being a fayre stonne bridge almost but newly made, was a great part of it beaten down." Thereupon they made a "platt" for their passage over the river a little below the bridge. They had got over all their ordnance and carriages and and most part of their horse and foot, when the thawing of the snow caused the river to rise so high that their platt was carried down, "and they by no means could pass the river the one to the other."§ Beam Bridge is alluded to by Smith in the Vale Royal.
The Town Bridge at Nantwich was one which had a chapel upon it. The first mention of it is in 1398, when licence was granted for the celebration of divine service in St. Ann's Chapel upon the bridge. In 1438-9 appears
*Roman Cheshire, 34.
Roman Cheshire, 69.
§ Hall's Nantwich, 165.
an entry in a rental referring to four shops upon the bridge, with the chapel, &c. The bridge was in early times of wood, and was maintained and repaired by the town. Webb describes it as a strong timber bridge, "which requires no little care and cost by reason of the monstrous carriages of the wood in carts, which is brought thither for the boyling of their salt." In 1652 it was made a county bridge. In 1663, being in decay, it was on the order of justices at quarter sessions rebuilt as a substantial stone bridge. The contractor, it is stated, had £90 of the county and the materials of the old bridge. The bridge then erected was superseded by the now existing one in 1803.*
Above Nantwich we have Shrewbridge, which appears as "Shyrardes-brugge” in an inquisition bearing so early a date as 1348;† Audlem, where a bridge is shown by Saxton, and in the map in the Vale Royal; and Sandford Bridge, near Wrenbury, also shown by Saxton, and in some old maps called Stanford Bridge.
The Dane flows into the Weaver at Northwich. Following its course upward, the first crossing is at Shipbrooke. A bridge appears here in Saxton's and later maps. Above that is Ravenscroft Bridge, a few yards to the west of which, according to Watkin,‡ the Roman road, called Kind Street, forded the river. Byley Bridge, which is next, is referred to by Smith in the Vale Royal. The present bridge bears the date "1842." Cranage Bridge was on the main road from Manchester through Knutsford to London. It is not shown by
Saxton, and was probably erected just after his time, for Webb mentions it as "built by Jo. Nedham, Esquire, whose heir," Sir Robert Nedham, was apparently then living. Above it we reach another Saltersford, which Watkin considers to have been a centre of several Roman roads.*
After passing a place named on the Ordnance Map as "Pinford Rough," we reach Somerford-cum-Radnor, a place named in Domesday. The original ford, which gave name to the township, was perhaps at the site of Radnor Bridge, which is mentioned by Smith in the Vale Royal.
The Dane Bridge at Congleton is also mentioned by Smith, and is shown in the earlier map of Saxton. It appears to have had a chapel upon it at one period.‡
Above Congleton the river reaches the hills, and few of the bridges are likely to be ancient. On this part of its
course are found Dob Ford, on a road towards Gawsworth, and Lymford Bridge, near Bosley.
The Bollin, which falls into the now canalised Mersey at a point which bears the very modern name of Rixton Junction, is first crossed by Bollin Bridge, near Warburton, on the road from High Legh. This road in some parts of its course bears the name of Burford Lane, from which one might suspect that the crossing was formerly Burford. I find, however, no other evidence in support of this view. A few miles higher up is a bridge which is not so modern as it pretends to be. The "New Bridge," as it is called, the scene of one of Dick Turpin's famous
* Roman Cheshire, 75.
+ Helsby's Ormerod, iii. 57. Hall's Nantwich, 86.
exploits, is situate on the main road from Manchester to Chester, and near to if not actually upon the site of the ford or other crossing of the Roman road between the same places. When the New Bridge was erected I have not been able to find out, but a bridge at this point is shown in Saxton's map and in the map by Randolph Crew in the Vale Royal.
Probably there was a ford at Ashley, near the house now called "Ford Bank," and at Castle Mill, which latter was situate on an old road from Stockport to Knutsford. Oversley Ford must have been in use to comparatively late times, for our member, Mr. Norbury, says he knew personally the man who took the first team over the bridge.
At Wilmslow what was formerly the "Old Bridge" is now superseded by a new one of iron. The one just above was built about 1775, together with the piece of new road on each side.* Verdon (pronounced locally, "Bardon") Bridge, a little higher, was erected about 1780.t
Above Wilmslow are crossings at Mottram St. Andrew, at Prestbury, near which is still a "Ford House," and at Macclesfield.
The Dean flows into the Bollin just below Twinney Bridge, a name which deserves attention as affording a parallel to the instances of "twistle" and related names at other confluences, supplied by Dr. March in his paper in the eighth volume of our Transactions. The present bridge is of iron and bears the date "1878," but succeeds
a much older one of stone. Not much higher up the the stream is Linney Bridge, a name evidently related in some way to its neighbour.
Handforth and Woodford both occur on this river.
Having now followed the courses of the principal rivers of the county, it remains for me to deal more generally with the crossings of the humbler tributary streams. And here we may notice how frequently the existence of a ford is denoted by the place-name, even in cases where the stream is so insignificant that it might, one would think, be cleared at a bound. But it must be remembered that in all probability in many of these cases the stream was not in early times confined to its present narrow bed, but spread and meandered over marsh and bogland in such a way as to render a ford or definite crossing place highly desirable.
Among these place-names, of which "ford" is a component part, are many which stand for the parish or township itself, thus pointing to the use of the ford before the area was delimited, which was generally in early Saxon times. Many of them are names which appear in Domesday and in early Norman charters. Of these designations some have been already referred to, viz., Aldford, Backford, Bridge Trafford and Mickle Trafford, Stapleford, Hartford, Somerford, Handforth, and Woodford.
To these we have now to add:
Knutsford, which appears in Domesday as Cunetesford, and is generally explained as the ford crossed by Cnut.
Chelford, in Domesday Celeford.
Pulford, spelt thus in Domesday, situate five miles