New Chinese Bridge 'Substantial, Graceful'

"I think it will be agreed that the new bridge is both substantial and graceful and is achinese-bridge-newspaper-cutting-bHunts Post credit to the local craftsman employed in it's construction." remarked the Mayor of Godmanchester (Coun. A S. Pettit) last Wednesday when he snipped a red ribbon to mark the official opening of the Borough's new Chinese Bridge.

"I also wish to thank the county council and the Ministry for their financial assistance," the mayor added.

Welcoming the chairman of the County Council (Ald. W. Brown) to "This small ceremony," the Mayor continued, "The first bridge which was built as a whole at the old Tan yard and conveyed in its entirety to this spot, lasted for 42 years.""The same question arose as it did 18 months ago, whether to replace in replica or to erect a different type of bridge still keeping with the site.

"It was decided that the second bridge should resemble the first as closely as possible and though this was done in the pattern and design of the woodwork, Bird in his reminiscences, states that it was not such a high arch nor as graceful as its predecessor although no doubt more substantial.

"Finally, I would like to say how pleased I am that this project has been completed by Godmanchester Borough Council while it is still a separate body, for although we look forward confidently to the future as a partner in the combined borough, this bridge has come to be looked upon as almost a symbol of our town."

After the ceremony about 100 people and school children followed the Mayor and Corporation, the Town Clerk (Mr. Philip Davies), and the Rev. R. Edwards, Vicar of Godmanchester, over the bridge.

A Plaque commemorating the occasion has been provided.

The original bridge, built in 1827, was intended to relieve the congestion in the Mill Yard then leased by the Corporation to a Mr. Ashley who paid £100 towards its erection. The decision to erect it was taken at a meeting of the bailiffs and assistants, and was carried by a majority of only one.

In March, 1959, the Borough Council was told that the bridge was beyond repair, and although enquiries were made about the incorporation of an arch, eventually the bridge was closed.

A local firm G. B. Brudenell Ltd., was awarded the contract for the construction of the new bridge, after submitting a tender of £1,580.

The Chinese was renovated in 197?, another newspaper article can be found here.

Hello my names Danny Ward and I'm working on behalf of Atkins and we're here to tell you about the Chinese Bridge being removed.

It's a very special job we've, we found it very exciting, I think all the crew here have been fantastic especially the crane driver when they managed to lift the bridge out in one piece. It's a very unusual job we dont get many of these so its been very interesting.

Interviewer "Can I ask you about the chain saws and what happened with them?"

What it was we didn't take into account there would be a steal plate underneath the bridge so the chain saws obviously couldn't cut all the way through the wood, so we had to go back and get a steal saw to cut through the steel plates on the bottom and as you could see the chain saws got blunted by one of the blades so we had to renew the blades on it.

Interviewer "Was there anything special about the cranes?"

Well the crane that we bought in was actually a 300 Tonne crane so the lifting capability of it was immense, it was way over the top for what we needed but its better to be safe than sorry you know.

Interviewer "And this crane?" (Crane behind Danny)

And this crane here? This is just a higher of the back of the lorry, we're having a crane coming in soon to lift the second section of the bridge and it should be going in today hopefully.

Interviewer "And the crane coming in, is that a 300 tonner?"

I'm not sure how big the crane whats coming in is, I know we had to have the 300 Tonne crane for the lift out because they was worried about the rotten underneath of the bridge and it falling apart on lifting. I think the Slingers and the Banksman done a fantastic job because they managed to sling it at 8 points and managed to keep it in one piece which was fantastic. The crane driver was absolutely immense he was very smooth and he managed to keep things very sturdy whilst going through.


My name is Ken Sneath, I've been a resident here in Godmanchester for 28 years and I've been researching theken-sneath history of the town for some years in preperation for a book which is being produced to celebrate the 2012 anniversary of the charter.

Today the new Chinese Bridge is being erected, it is very much an iconic image of Godmanchester and perhaps some people might be disappointed to see that the old bridge has been taken down and replaced by a new one.  But of course the bridge which has been taken down is not the original bridge we have in fact two Chinese Bridges in Godmanchester. One links Island Hall with its island and the other one is our town bridge.
You may well ask why do we have two Chinese Bridges in Godmanchester? Well there was a great fashion for something known as chinwazary in the 18th Century and it came somewhat to a peak in the mid 18th century and shortly afterwards the Island Hall bridge was built.

As i said this links Island Hall with its island, unfortunately a great storm happened in 1928 and an Elm fell down on the bridge crushing it and it was replaced by a replica in 1988 by Christopher Vane-Percy the present owner of Island Hall and he won a number of awards for that replica bridge.ken-sneath-city-hall

But turning to our town bridge that was designed in 1827 by an Irish architect by the name of James Gallier. Now James Gallier has a somewhat interesting history. The town bridge was one of his first commissions as a young man just under the age of 30, he went on to work on the Grosvenor estate in London and then unfortunately went bankrupt and went of to America where he became in the end a quiet notable architect.His most famous building was the City Hall in New Orleans which has got wonderful columns and ionic capitals to those columns. He was no stranger to adversity and James Galliers first wife died but after having produced a son, who was also called James who became and architect, but James married again and his second wife was called Caroline.

Later in life as they were sailing down the east coast of the United States, their ship sank just of Cape Hatteras in Carolina and both he and his second wife were drowned.  So quiet an interesting man this Irish architech who designed the new, the town bridge for Godmanchester which is being replaced today.