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
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
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!