Friday, May 30, 2008

bristol bridge

I mentioned Bristol Bridge (“bridge of buildings”) yesterday and have now found out a little more about it. For centuries it was the only crossing of the Avon for miles around; the Saxon bridge was timber-built but the stone replacement version was completed in 1361. Like London Bridge, it was rapidly lined with shops and became one of the busiest commercial centres of the city (and the houses rose higher and higher over the centuries). Initially, the bridge managed to include a city gate and chapel in one massive structure. By the mid-1700s, the houses on the bridge were under threat and seen as an impediment to traffic. Pressure grew to clear the bridge of houses (as they had done at London Bridge) and a new replacement bridge was opened in 1768. The new bridge was financed through tolls but, when the Bridge Trustees reneged on a promise to cease the toll in 1793, riots followed. Citizens burnt the toll-gates and the contents of the toll-houses and the Council responded by ordering the Militia to fire into the crowd. Eleven died and 52 were wounded.
Image: view of Bristol Bridge from Welsh Back around 1750.
PS: just thought you might be amused to know that my bargain £3 Blues double CD includes a track entitled “Love Like a Hydrant” by Lightnin’ Hopkins (they just don’t write songs like that anymore!).

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