Linton in Pictures
A History of Linton
in Photographs
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THE GREAT BRIDGE AT LINTON

"The Great Bridge of Linton" was first mentioned in a document of 1564, and is shown on the Millicent Manorial Map of 1600 as Barton’s Bridge. In 1680 it was called Linton Bridge by the Linton Manorial lord, Sir Thomas Sclater who then resided in a mansion house at Catley Park. In some eighteenth century documents the bridge is referred to as Westrop’s Bridge. Westrop was the Steward of the Linton Manors in the early part of the century and held grazing rights over Westrop(e) Meadow, the present Recreation Ground.

William Cole of Milton (1714-1782) was a respected antiquarian and he frequently travelled to Horseheath to visit his wealthy friend, Lord Montfort of Horseheath Hall. Cole provides us with our first description of the river footbridge bridge, and the hazards of using the ford at the Swan Inn crossing.

Flooding at this fording point had always been a problem and William Cole relates how the water came into his carriage on one particular visit. Given the height of carriages, it conveys to us how high the flood waters must have risen.

The Linton Mixed School (the present day Infant School) Log Book entry for November the 11th, 1875 provides further evidence of the serious nature of Linton’s flooding. Mr. Mutimer, the headmaster wrote, "A heavy fall of rain took place last night which overcharged the river and submerged the meadows and a part of the High Street. The children living south and west of the school were carried through the water in carts."

More recent flooding in 1958, 1968 and 2001 brings home to us the serious problems our ancestors encountered.

Just as there were calls for the railway to come to Linton, so there were constant complaints about the disgraceful state of the bridge. The footbridge spanned the river Granta from the “Dog and Duck” beer house to the “Swan” Inn, and the wooden piers acted as a dam which trapped the river debris and made the flooding worse.

The Cambridge Chronicle reported on March 29th, 1845 that "The heavy rains of Sunday night last and the rapid thawing of the snow, caused the water in the river to rise to so unusual a height that it was scarcely possible to pass even over the foot bridge at Linton. Several houses in the immediate locality were inundated, and two or three trifling accidents occurred. The bridge is a universal eyesore and object of complaint, and the only remedy is to erect a new and far more commodious one. The great difficulty to this step would be the raising of sufficient sums of money for its erection."

Funding was the issue and it was not until tweny years later, on April the 1st 1866 that a committee of the Linton Vestry met to consider plans for a new bridge. The driving force behind the scheme was Thomas Chalk, a prominent tenant farmer and merchant. He was supported by a powerful group of local farmers and businessmen which included: William Chalk (farmer and carrier), William Hailes (gentleman), James Tyler (farmer), Edward Clayden (farmer ) and Richard Holttum (grocer and draper).

They sought subscriptions for the construction of a new road bridge and secured pledges of £100 each from the two Linton Manorial lords, Pembroke College and Mr. R.E. Keene of Swyncombe Park in Oxfordshire. The list of the subscribers contains some absentee landlords but no actual Linton residents. However, the local ratepayers raised £300 towards the cost by the levying of a 10d rate.

The contract for the brickwork was awarded to Luke Gimson of Royston and the ornamental ironwork was undertaken by Mr. Headley of Cambridge. Although some of the present day ornamental ironwork on the bridge has been restored, most of it is original. The architect in charge of the whole project was a Mr. W. Fawcett and his fee totalled £34 – 4 – 0.

Work commenced on May 13th 1867 and was completed by the 28th of September. Surprisingly there was no formal opening and the Chronicle reported how the public were too impatient to wait for such a ceremony. A mail cart apparently "crept stealthily over the new structure in the shade of the evening."

Lintonians were upset at the cost to the ratepayer and believed that “through travellers” should have borne the cost. Difficulties in raising money and grumbling about things without actually doing anything have plagued the village for the past one hundred and fifty years!