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which obviously derives its name from this crossing, is situate a little higher up.
Passing another ferry, situate on a lane leading to Churton, we next arrive at the great bridge of Farndon, which I can only compare to that of Bideford, immortalised by Kingsley. For as Bideford is Bideford by virtue of its bridge, so we may say in like manner is Farndon Farndon. Perhaps, however, we ought to admit the Welsh town of Holt on the opposite shore as an equal partner in the proprietorship of the bridge, for the inhabitants of each have found it equally useful. How many centuries old it is I am unable to say. The first mention to be found of it is by Webb (1621) in the Vale Royal. He speaks of it as "an exceeding fair stone bridge built (no doubt) together with that old substantial castle in the Holt." Evidently, therefore, it was ancient in his day. It is shown with the castle on Saxton's map (temp. Elizabeth). It has nine arches, with large angular recesses between each. There are, says Helsby, in his edition of Ormerod, "on the Welsh side over the third arch of the bridge traces of a tower or guardhouse."
In November, 1643, there was a skirmish on this bridge. Colonel Brereton and Sir Thomas Middleton, who had marched out of Nantwich towards Wales, won first the bridge, and a little after the town of Holt, without loss of any men.*
According to Watkin,t "there was undoubtedly a Roman ford across the Dee at Holt."
The Gowy is best known to Manchester people from the circumstance that its outlet had to be bridged in the
*Hall's Nantwich, 157.
+ Roman Cheshire, 82.
course of the construction of the Ship Canal. There are grounds for believing that at one time the valley through which this river runs formed the bed of a tidal stream communicating with both the Mersey and the Dee, and making Wirral into an island. At the present day, owing probably to a rising of the land surface, we have two streams, one flowing northwards into the Mersey and another southwards into the Dee. But in Saxton's map there is one stream only, and the same appears in Morden's map of 1700. Nearly midway, at a point where the stream is now insignificant in size, is Backford, "the valley ford." Here there was in very early times a bridge, for an undated charter speaks of the 'Ponte de Bakeforde sup. ripam aqua." And the Parr Inqs. (10 Henry VII. and 2 Edward VI.) also refer to the Briggegrene and Le Brigge Medowe, both in Backford.*
But this stream, which formerly went through to Backford and the Dee, is now only a tributary of the Gowy. Following the river itself up from its outlet at Stanlaw we come to a succession of fords and bridges, situate on the ancient highways leading out of Chester to the north-east and east. The first is Bridge Trafford, a name which to us who are accustomed to a "Trafford Bridge" looks rather like putting the cart before the horse. It is easily explained, however, when we remember that close by there is another Trafford. Whether this name means the "trough ford" or the "draught ford" or— as it has lately been suggested to me—the “Tref-ford,” i.e., the ford to the town, is a question we will set aside for the moment. We can readily see that there was a necessity to distinguish in some way this Trafford from the neighbouring one, and evidently the bridge met the
* Helsby's Ormerod, ii. 366.
case, the other Trafford being at the time without one. This bridge was apparently erected in 1391, for in that year a royal warrant was issued to John Donne, the master forester of Delamere, for the delivery out of the forest of one oak, which the king had given towards the building of the bridge of Bruggetroghford. And in 1410 the escheator executed a writ or warrant of the Prince of Wales, as earl, upon John Donne for the delivery of another oak for the repair of this bridge.* In 1559 one James Benet made a will leaving 6s. 8d. to Trafford Bridge. The bridge is mentioned both by Webb and Smith in the Vale Royal. Watkin mentioned it as on the site of a ford on the Roman road between Chester and Wilderspool.‡
Plemstow Bridge is mentioned by Smith (Vale Royal), but nowhere else, unless it is to be understood as identical with the bridge at Mickle Trafford, which was erected in the thirty-third year of Henry VI. (if not earlier). In that year a warrant was issued for the delivery of oaks for the bridge of "Magna Troghford."
Next above this crossing is that at Stanford on the Roman road to Manchester. The modern road, says Watkin, is slightly diverted to the north of where the Romans forded. There must have been a bridge in the fourteenth century, for a charter of 1355 mentions the way that leads from Stanford Brigge|| toward Chester. A warrant in the thirty-third year of Henry VI. was issued for the delivery of oaks out of the Forest of Mara (Delamere) to John Tegyn, surveyor of the works of this bridge. In 1643, mention is made of a fight at Stanford Bridge.¶
* Ormerod's Cheshire, ii. 44.
& Roman Cheshire, 31.
|| Cheshire Sheaf, i. 189.
Hockenhull Plat or Plot is the next crossing, "a place," says Webb, "well known, being the passage over our said water in our great London road-way to Chester, wanting nothing but a bridge for carts to pass that way when that river riseth, which were a very necessary & charitable work to be done." There was probably here only a platting for foot passengers, carriages going round by Tarvin. Ogilby (1675) describes this as the horse road. A bridge is shown later in Morden's map. The lane from the west is still called Platt Lane.
A little higher up is "a passage over the same water called Stapleford."* The name indicates a ford protected by poles or staples.† Just above Stapleford is the modern "Ford Bridge," its name recalling the earlier mode of crossing, and near it is "Ford Farm."
As the whole of this river, from its mouth as far as Stockport, has been dealt with in the former paper on Lancashire, it is unnecessary here to do more than recapitulate the names of the various crossings, viz.: Birkenhead Ferry, Eastham or Carlett Ferry, Hale Ford, Runcorn Gap Ferry, Fiddler's Ferry, Warrington Bridge, Latchford, Thelwall, Ford near Rixton, Hollin's Ferry, Carrington Old Bridge and Ford, Flixton Ford, Shaw Hall Ford, Hillam Ford, Crosford Bridge, Barford,§
* Webb, 102.
Taylor, Names and their Histories, 388.
Rock Ferry and Seacombe appear to be also of some antiquity.
§ This was situate close by the present Bridgewater Canal Bridge, which is often called Barfoot or Barfooty Bridge. Mr. John Owen informs me that there is, on the south side of the river, a field called "Barford Hough," belonging to the Edgehouse Farm, in Stretford, and approached formerly by ford but now by a cartway alongside the railway bridge.
Jackson's Boat, Barlow Ford, Lum Ford, Northenden Ferry, Didsbury Ford, Gatley Ford, Cheadle Ford and Boat, and Stockport Ford and Bridge.
In regard to Cheadle Boat and Bridge it may be added that Mr. Fletcher Moss* is of opinion that there was formerly an additional crossing over the Mersey, near Broad Oak Farm, there being on the Didsbury side a "Boat Field," extending to the river, opposite an old lane leading to Gatley. He also statest that the bridge which fell in 1756 was succeeded by a wooden one, and this (in 1777) by one of stone, which lasted till the present bridge was erected in 1861. The wooden bridge was probably for foot passengers only. Harrop's Manchester Mercury records that in July, 1768, a cart which was crossing Cheadle Ford was borne away by the impetuosity of the current, the three horses attached to it and a man who was a passenger being drowned, and the driver only saving himself by swimming.
Above the confluence of the Tame the Mersey becomes wholly a Cheshire river. On this portion is what is still called the "New Bridge," though it, or rather its predecessor, bore that name already in Webb's time, nearly three hundred years ago. The structure then existing was replaced in 1755 by another, which was swept away by a flood, and that by another, which fell down. The present edifice was erected in 1799. Otterspool Bridge. which crosses the river near Hatherlow, succeeds one which in an ancient description of the boundary of Macclesfield Forest is called Rohehundesbrig (Roehounds Bridge), About the year 1500, however, the present name appears.§ The existing structure was erected about 1659. Colonel
*Chronicles of Cheadle, p. 60. •† Ibid, p. 59.
Heginbottom's Stockport, ii. 428. § Ibid, ii. 210.