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.