The History of Tewkesbury

By James Bennett

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2015

CHAPTER XXI.

ROADS AND BRIDGES

IT has been observed, that the condition of the public roads of a nation forms a tolerable criterion from which its state of civilization and prosperity may be determined; wheresoever the roads are dangerous, the operations of trade will be impeded, the value of land depreciated, and friendly intercourse straitened. The science of road-making has been little understood among the moderns, until within a comparatively recent period. The Romans were the most perfect masters of this useful art among the ancients; yet it has been noticed, that their roads "appear not to have been constructed upon the most perfect principles, in general".[393]

Although the roads which were made by these invaders in this country were much superior to any which previously existed here, still it must be inferred that our British progenitors, who were "so familiarly acquainted with the use of chariots, and engaged in commercial pursuits, which rendered necessary a correspondence between the interior parts of the country and the coast, could not be destitute of roads, so carefully amended as to assume a permanent character".[394] That such roads were indeed found by the Romans, on their arrival in Britain, has been invariably admitted by those who have most accurately investigated the subject.

The Ryknield-Street, one of the most extensive and important of the British roads, which began at the mouth of the

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Tyne, and continued its course into South Wales, is said to have run through Tewkesbury.[395]

According to a very excellent map of the "Towns and Trackways in Britain, as they existed at the first invasion of Caesar", by that learned and ingenious antiquary, the late Rev. Thomas Leman, of Bath, - the Western trackway, which commenced on the coast of Devon, after passing through Exeter and Bristol, ran on the eastern bank of the Severn, from Glevum (Gloucester) to Branogena (Worcester), and consequently must also have gone through or near Tewkesbury.

The Romans, in forming their roads throughout the island, generally adopted the trackways of the British; it has therefore been said, that their principal road from the south of Wales to the north of England passed through this place, in the line

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of the Ryknield-Street. As, however, the invaders are known to have frequently shortened the distances in the roads of their precursors, by lopping off many of the circuitous lines and corners, it has been supposed, by some writers, that the Roman way from Gloucester to Ad Antonam[396] a lost station on the Avon, was made to run a little to the eastward of Tewkesbury, coming into the present Evesham road about Ashchurch;[397] others have supposed that it ran near to Cheltenham and Winchcomb, in its way to the passage over the Avon.[398]

The Roman Road, mentioned in the tenth iter of Richard of Cirencester, which was formed in the line of the Western trackway of the British, and ran from Exeter to Inverness, is supposed also to have gone through Tewkesbury.[399]

It appears to be generally admitted, that the Western trackway of the British, and the Roman road which led from Gloucester to Worcester, ran through Tewkesbury;[400] but it is tolerably evident that the Ryknield-Street did not pass through the town, though it came into the parish. The ancient road from Gloucester perhaps went somewhat to the westward of the present one, at Deerhurst Walton, and passing along the low lands, towards Notclift and Whitefield, crossed the Hoo-lane, about three hundred yards from the present Tredington turn

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pike-gate. It then might have gone, in a straight line, near the farm-houses at Southwick, to Lincoln's-Green; it afterwards veered to the eastward, through Gupshiil, passing within a short distance of Queen Margaret's camp, near which it united with the old road from Cheltenham to Tewkesbury. It crossed the Swilgate brook, at a ford which is to this day known by its original appellation of Prest bridge, (from the Saxon pneopr, priest), and proceeded to Rudgeway, (which is a common name for a British trackway;) from thence it ran to Walton-Cardiff and Newton, where it united with the present Evesham road, about two miles eastward of Tewkesbury. It then went to Beckford, Ashton-under-Hill, and across the Avon at or near Sedgebarrow.

Greater improvements have been made in the public roads generally, within the last fifty years, than had perhaps been effected in several preceding centuries; and the beneficial effects arising from these improvements are now universally felt and acknowledged.

Turnpikes were first erected in England soon after the Revolution. The first act for the repair of roads, in this county, was passed in 1698, and very few road acts were passed earlier. Previously to that period, many of the highways were impassable with wheel carriages; and pack-horses were chiefly employed in the conveyance of merchandize and agricultural produce.[401]

When turnpike-tolls were first demanded, the lower ranks of the people evinced great opposition to the measure, and a number of persons in various parts of the country were executed for pulling down gates and ill-treating the toll collectors. Several men were hung at Gloucester, about the year 1734, for destroying turnpikes near Tewkesbury; and three others were condemned at Worcester Lent Assizes, in 1736, for similar conduct in the neighbourhood of Ledbury.

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The spirit of improvement, in this particular district, began to manifest itself about the year 1725;[402] when the first act of parliament was obtained for repairing and widening the roads leading into and from the town of Tewkesbury.[403] Another act was obtained, with additional powers, in 1756;[404] and at that

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time the utmost efforts were made by the trustees to bring the roads into a complete state of repair.[405] Several other acts for the furthering of this desirable object were passed during the long reign of George the third; the present road act was obtained in 1826.

The roads in the Tewkesbury district have long been distinguished for their excellence. Great part of the stone, which is used in repairing them, is brought by water from the quarries in the vicinity of Bristol; the durability of this material more than compensates for the great expense which attends its conveyance from so great a distance. The pebbles, which are obtained from the gravel pits in the neighbourhood, are an admirable auxiliary to the Bristol stone; and to a suitable admixture of these materials may be attributed the unrivalled state of the roads around the town.

The road leading from Tewkesbury towards Gloucester has, within a few years, not only been shortened, by cutting off many of the angles, but some of the hills have been avoided, and others rendered less dangerous. In 1827, the hill near the Hermitage turnpike, was lowered; and by removing the extreme corners of the garden attached to the house of industry, and placing the hedge in the Gaston field further back, the road was much widened for a considerable distance.

The Worcester road has been recently widened in those parts which were before too confined, and also rendered much less circuitous.[406]- A most important alteration was made in 1825, by lowering and widening the Mythe Hill - a measure which had long been contemplated, and which would earlier have been effected, if the finances of the trustees had been sufficiently flourishing.

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In the year 1777, a sum exceeding £.300 was subscribed by individuals, residing in the town and neighbourhood, towards the reparation, of the Ashchurch road, which had been so long neglected, that it had become almost impassable. To this sum, James Martin, esq. M.P. added £.500, and John Martin, esq. of Ham Court, £.100.

In 1792, many of the principal landholders, gentlemen and yeomen, in the vicinity of Tewkesbury, formed themselves into a "road-club", with a view to effect a general improvement in the turnpike and bye-roads. By instructing surveyors in their duty, and strictly compelling parishes and individuals to discharge their respective obligations, the efforts of this society were attended with very beneficial results.

In 1825, application was made to parliament for powers to form an entirely new line of road from Tewkesbury to Cheltenham, to commence either at the market-house or at the Bull-ring, and to proceed in nearly a straight direction through Tredington, Stoke Orchard, and Swindon, terminating at Pittville, Cheltenham. The commissioners of the roads, at Tewkesbury and Cheltenham, feeling themselves bound to protect the interests of the mortgagees on their respective trusts, strenuously opposed the measure, and the bill was thrown out. In the ensuing session of parliament, the Tewkesbury trustees obtained an act, empowering them to make a new branch of road from Gupshill to Elmstone Hardwick; at which place the Cheltenham trustees have engaged to meet them, as soon as they can obtain an act for that purpose. Should this project be accomplished, the distance will certainly be shortened; but whether advantages will be gained sufficient to compensate for the heavy expense, is more than doubtful.

The bye-roads, within the parish, are kept in better condition than those of most other places; yet, if the repairs were superintended by an experienced surveyor, instead of being entrusted to persons annually chosen to the office, the business might be perhaps not only better performed, but executed at a much less expense. Bye-roads, which divide parishes, are often the source of vexatious litigation; and the

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inhabitants of Tewkesbury have not been exempt from their share of this evil. The reparation of the Hoo-lane, which leads from the Gloucester turnpike-road towards Deerhurst, occasioned an expensive law-suit at the Michaelmas county sessions in 1812, when the parish of Deerhurst was ordered to repair it. The lane leading to Tredington has often been the cause of contention betwixt this and neighbouring parishes. A portion of it was for many years wholly neglected, from a pretext of the parish of Tredington, that it belonged either to Tewkesbury or Deerhurst. The inhabitants of Tredington have since had cause to regret their parsimony, for when, in 1828, it became nearly impassable, the trustees of the turnpike-roads repaired it, and immediately afterwards erected a turnpike-gate at the angle which unites it with the Gloucester road.

Numerous bridges have necessarily been erected over the various rivers which encompass the town; and some of them are not less remarkable for their elegance than their utility. The most ancient and important of these structures is that built over the Avon, the two branches of which are connected by an arched causeway; these, with the adjoining causeway from Old Avon to the foot of the Mythe Hill, extend considerably more than a quarter of a mile in length. It is impossible to ascertain at what period the earliest bridge on this spot was erected. John Earl of Cornwall, (afterwards King of England), who obtained the manor of Tewkesbury, in 1183, in right of his wife Isabel, daughter of William Earl of Gloucester, built a bridge on this site, and gave the tolls of the market to keep it in repair.[407] The structure raised by this

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potent earl, was probably of a very rude character; though Leland, the "royal antiquary" of Henry the eighth, who perhaps personally inspected it, declared it to be, in his time, "a greate bridge of stone".[408] Subsequently to this period, it became, through neglect, so dangerous to passengers, that, in 1621, Sir Dudley Digges, bart. one of the representatives of the borough, at the request of his constituents, applied to parliament for an act to compel the county to rebuild it. The bill was so violently opposed by the members for the county and city of Gloucester, and by those for Bristol and Cirencester, that though it was read a second time and committed, the promoters of it were subsequently compelled to relinquish the measure.[409] The bridge probably remained in a dilapidated

284HISTORY OF TEWKESBURY. 

state from that time until the reign of Charles the first; at the assizes for the county of Gloucester, which were held at Tewkesbury, on the 2d of July, 1638, the court ordered it to be repaired at the expense of the county, the corporation of the borough stipulating, after that was effected, to keep it in proper condition.[410]

The rapidity of the current of the Avon, at the time of high floods, has often occasioned considerable damage to the walls and arches both of the bridge and causeway. They suffered greatly in 1729, and again in 1747; at the latter period, the four arches erected over Old Avon, were obliged to be re-built, the town having been indicted, in consequence of their dangerous condition. In 1783, the bridge underwent further reparation; and the injury done to the bridge and causeway, in the early part of 1810, cost the parish upwards of £.1000. In the latter instance, the surveyors of the bye-roads, conceiving that the commissioners of the turnpike-roads ought to bear the expense of reparation, refused to interfere with it, until an indictment was preferred against them. As the nine-penny rate, allowed

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by law, was found to be insufficient for the completion of the necessary repairs, a fine of £.600 was suffered to be imposed upon the parish, at the Gloucester summer assizes in 1810. This sum was collected, by rate, within the year. On this occasion, about half of the causeway, between Old Avon and the Mythe Hill, was widened and heightened.

In 1823, it was proposed to widen and repair the bridges over the two arms of the river Avon, and also the arched causeway which unites them. A specification and estimate were obtained from Mr. John Collingwood, surveyor of the county, from which it appeared that the cost would amount to £.1750. The inhabitants of the borough, thinking it equitable that the county should share in the expense of an undertaking which would be beneficial to the public generally, memorialised the magistrates, assembled at the Michaelmas quarter sessions in 1823, for aid towards effecting this improvement, intimating that a precedent existed for their interference, in the order made at the assizes in 1638. The county magistrates having refused to grant any assistance, the object was abandoned.

In 1824, when the alterations at the Mythe Hill afforded a large quantity of surplus soil, the commissioners of the turnpike-roads offered to raise and widen the causeway, from the foot of the hill to that part of the road which had been improved in a similar manner in 1810, and also to introduce five large additional culverts, on condition that the inhabitants of Tewkesbury assisted them with the amount of a shilling rate upon all the assessable property within the parish. To this proposition the parishioners cheerfully acceded, and the entire causeway is now elevated far above the height of ordinary floods.

In 1823, an act of parliament was obtained for erecting a new bridge across the river Severn, at the Mythe, and for making necessary roads in connection with it. This measure had been frequently agitated during the preceding half century, and abandoned only in consequence of the difficulty of obtaining pecuniary aid sufficient to complete a work of such magnitude. The subject had been renewed, with some degree of ardour, in 1816; and again, still more warmly, in 1818, when considerable

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expenses were incurred in procuring plans and estimates.[411] This measure, however unprofitable it may be to individual speculators, has already proved of much advantage to the town, by opening a new line of communication with Herefordshire and South Wales, and is susceptible of being made still more beneficial; it is a great public convenience, and extremely important to agriculturists and others, who reside on the Worcestershire side of the Severn.

The excavations were commenced on the 12th of June, 1823; and on the 8th of the following September, the foundation-stone of the bridge was laid, with much solemnity, by Thomas Quarington, esq. the acting grand master of the provincial grand lodge of freemasons of the county of Gloucester, attended by the members of that and several other lodges, the corporation of the borough, the trustees and subscribers to the bridge, and an immense concourse of spectators of all ranks.

After considerable progress had been made in the work, it was reported that the foundations were not sufficiently substantial; and the trustees were induced to discharge their engineer and architect, George Moneypenny, esq.[412]

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In December, 1823, they obtained the able assistance of Thomas Telford, esq. to whom the editor is indebted for the following accurate description of a structure, which will be a lasting monument to the fame of the "President of the Institution of Civil Engineers".

"Upon examining the site of the bridge, which is about half a mile north of the town, and immediately south of the Mythe Hill, I found that, as far as regarded the river and approaches, the situation was judiciously selected; but after having had the nature of the river bottom and its banks ascertained by boring, I could not approve of the plan of having three arches, which had been adopted, and partly proceeded with; because I had found the bottom to consist of soft alluvial matter, which rendered the placing two piers in the navigable channel very objectionable. Finding that the whole breadth of waterway might be spanned by an arch of one hundred and seventy feet, and so to leave the whole free from impediment, and that the structure would also be less liable to be injured by the numerous vessels which navigate the Severn; having also ascertained that this would be accomplished for a sum not exceeding that of three arches, which had been contracted for; I stated these matters to the trustees, and they approved of the design of one arch, which I presented on the 23d of March, 1823.

"The span of this cast-iron arch is one hundred and seventy feet, the rise or versed sine seventeen feet or one-tenth of the span. The breadth is twenty-four feet between the bases of the railing, and this breadth is divided into seventeen feet for the driving way, and three feet six inches for a foot-path on each side. The roads of approach, on each side, are thirty feet in width. The foundations of masonry abutments are laid nineteen feet six inches below the springing of the arch, and are there placed upon bearing piles, of twenty-one feet in length, covered with timber framing, planking and sheeting piles. These abutments are twenty feet in thickness, and are connected with the extremity of the wings by arches of twenty feet span.

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"The iron-work consists of six main ribs, each three feet in depth; the two outer ribs are each two inches and a half, and the four interior ones each two inches in thickness. These six ribs are cast in lengths of twenty-two feet, and connected by cross plates, also three feet in depth and two inches in thickness; they stand upon abutments - springing plates three feet in breadth and four inches in thickness, and they are connected by grated plates, one inch in thickness, laid over the whole of them. Upon these six ribs, thus connected, as one frame, are placed the lozenge pillars which support the road-way; these are connected by wrought-iron ties, of one inch and a half diameter, passed through hollow cast-iron tubes; these tubes having flanches at each set of lozenges, to keep them in a perpendicular position, while the aforesaid wrought-iron bars or ties, passing through the whole, are screwed at the extremities to secure the pipes in their places. In order still farther to preserve the whole, as a frame, in a proper position, diagonal braces are introduced. Upon the lozenges, thus secured, are placed the bearers of the road-way plates, one of them over each of the six sets of ribs and lozenges; and upon these rest the plates which support the road-way, which are one inch in thickness, with flanches four inches in depth, and all screwed together. Upon the road-way plates are placed the skirting plates, which keep up the gravel, and also receive the common railing, and are secured by the main bars of the railing, which are two inches and a half and one inch and a half square, and have feet, eighteen inches in length, screwed to the road-way plates.

"The shape of the railing, and also the general appearance of the whole iron-work, will be best seen by the accompanying engraving.

"The masonry is carried up solid to three feet above the level of the springing of the great arch; at this height is introduced a series of open arches, in place of having solid masonry. I was led to this from having observed, in all the other cast-iron bridges, constructed under my direction, that the great mass of solid masonry in the wings did not accord well with

[Image} TEWKESBURY SEVERN BRIDGE Designed by Thomas Telford, F.R.S.E.

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the openness of the iron-work; these arches are also of use when the floods rise more than three feet above the springing: and as this is the first instance in which this mode has been adopted, as well as some other improvements, I reckon this the handsomest bridge which has been built under my direction.

"Upon the road-way plates there is laid a coating of clay, - four inches, well rammed; upon this is a bed of five inches of broken stone, of such quality as is procured in the neighbourhood; the top or last layer consists of best Bristol limestone, five inches in thickness, broken into pieces which will pass, in their longest dimensions, through a ring of two inches and a half diameter: the whole making fourteen inches in thickness.

"Each foot-path is three feet six inches broad, including a curb stone, eighteen inches in depth and nine inches in thickness.

"The whole of the iron-work is made from the best Shropshire No. 2 iron; cast, fitted and put up in the most perfect manner.[413] The stone-work consists of good Shropshire stones, of large dimensions, brought down the river; and the mortar is made from Aberddaw pebbles, which are allowed to be the best of any for works of this description.[414]

"The approaches to the bridge being over low flat ground, which is frequently covered with floods, is therefore embanked to a considerable height, the top of which is thirty feet in width, with side slopes of one and a half horizontal to one perpendicular. The road-way is made in the same manner as described for the bridge, and is well protected on each side. In order to pass the flood water, there are nine land

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arches of twelve feet span, besides two culverts, each of three feet diameter.

"The toll-house and gates are constructed in a suitable style to the bridge.

"Looking therefore to this bridge, over such a fine navigable river, passing through a beautiful valley, at a proper distance from an ancient town, with its immediately adjacent scenery, and having the Malvern Hills in the distance, it seems not presuming too much to assert, that the picture will not suffer by comparison with any other which can be selected.

"The agreements for my plan were made on the 23d of March, 1823, and my certificate that Mr. M'Tntosh had completed his contract, is dated the 8th of April, 1826.

"London, 29th July, 1828"."THOMAS TELFORD".

In consequence, as it was alleged, of the persons who were originally employed, having neglected to make themselves sufficiently acquainted with the nature of the bed of the river; as well as from their erroneous estimates of the expense of making the roads; and entirely omitting in their specifications many works which were essentially necessary to perfect the undertaking; it was found, long before the bridge was finished, that the subscriptions[415] were inadequate, and that a large additional sum of money would be required to complete the work. It was therefore determined, in 1825, immediately to obtain another act of parliament, with additional powers; but owing to the non-observance of some of the standing orders of the house of commons, the application was necessarily delayed. In this emergency, a public-spirited individual, (Thomas Taylor, esq. of the Mythe), agreed to advance the whole of the money which was required to complete the bridge and roads, on condition that the subscribers would consent to his having a priority of payment, both of principal and interest; and that the trustees

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would apply to parliament, in the ensuing session, for an act to confirm the guarantee thus to be given to him by the subscribers.[416] A new act was accordingly obtained, in the following year; and the bridge was opened for passengers on the 12th of May, 1826.

The total cost of the bridge, with its approaches and roads, was upwards of £.35,000, though the original estimate was only £.20,700, which was the amount allowed to be raised by subscription under the powers of the first act of parliament. More than £.5500 was expended in procuring acts of parliament, and in legal proceedings; £.1650 was paid for the Upper Lode Ferry; and £.1031. 17s. for the purchase of land; Mr. M'Intosh's contract for masonry, embankments, fencing, and extra work, amounted to £.15,297. 13s.; Mr. Hazledine's, for iron, &c. to £.4539. 10s.; and Mr. Marson's, for the roads, &c. to £.5872. 12s. 11d.; Mr. Moneypenny's account, as engineer, was £.750.; and Mr. Telford's, £.250.

The drive from Tewkesbury to Ledbury is extremely pleasant and beautiful: the road was at first admirably formed, and has since been kept in excellent order.[417] The numerous villages, which skirt the sides of the road, present many picturesque and enlivening features; the varied and extensive prospects, which occasionally burst upon the sight, particularly in ascending the lofty hills, ranging with those of Malvern, are singularly grand and interesting; and a view of the magnificent castle of the Right Hon. Earl Somers, at Eastnor, recently erected from the designs of the celebrated Mr. Smirke, would alone repay the traveller for making a circuit of considerable extent. A mere glance at this stately edifice would create

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wonder and delight in the most unlettered observer; while a view of the site of the ancient mansion at Castleditch, with the beautiful scenery and venerable plantations which surround it, would awaken, in such as are at all acquainted with English history, many pleasing recollections connected with the honourable life of that illustrious statesman, Lord Chancellor Somers.

A new and elegant cast-iron bridge, of one arch, was erected across the Avon, at the Quay, in 1822, and the avenues leading to it were at the same time much improved. The old stone bridge having become somewhat dilapidated, an act of parliament was obtained, in 1808, for rebuilding it. The completion of the project was however prudently deferred, until the tolls had produced a sum of money somewhat commensurate with the costs of the undertaking.

In the year 1602, a bridge was thrown over the Swilgate, on the Gloucester road, which is supposed to have been wholly or in part built of wood, as it is certain that a draw-bridge was there in the time of Charles the first. This bridge was either re-built, or considerably improved, in 1635. A substantial stone bridge was afterwards erected, which was widened in 1757. In the year 1827, this bridge was again much widened and raised, side-walls were also added to it, and the causeway leading from thence to the town was greatly elevated and rendered much more commodious. A voluntary subscription produced £.200, and the surveyors of the bye-roads contributed £.20: these sums were paid to the commissioners of the turnpike-roads, upon their undertaking to make the required improvements.

A stone bridge was erected over the Swilgate, at the bottom of the Gander-lane, about the year 1795, at the expense of the Right Hon. the Earl of Essex, for the convenience of his tenants. There had been previously only a grotesque wooden bridge, which stood there as early as 1602, for the accommodation of foot passengers.

There is also a newly-built stone bridge, over the Carron, on the Bredon road, which was considerably improved in 1824.

Notes
[393] Whitaker's History of Manchester,
[394] Introduction to the Beauties of England and Wales.
[395] In the Rev. Thomas Leman's Commentary on the Itinerary of Richard of Cirencester, published in Mr. Hatcher's admirable edition of that work, the following is described as the course of this celebrated British trackway: "Ryknield- Street, or Street of the Upper Iceni, said to begin at the mouth of the Tyne, ran by Chester-le-Street, to Binchester, where it joined the Watling-Street, and continued with it to Catterick; then, bearing more easterly, it ran with the present great northern road to within two miles of Borough Bridge, where it left the turnpike to the right, and crossed the Eure to Aldborough; from thence it went to Coptgrave, Ribston, Spofforth, through Stokeld Park, to Thorner, Medley, Foleby, Bolton, Graesborough, Holme, Great Brook near Tretown, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Little Chester, Egginton, to Burton, and Wall (where it crossed the Watling-Street); thence through Sutton Colfield, to Birmingham, King's Norton, Alchester, Bitford, Sedgebarrow, Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Lidney, Chepstow, and probably by Abergavenny, Brecon, Landilo, and Carmarthen, to St. David's". - In the Introduction to the Beauties of England and Wales, Mr. Leman has substituted Berry Hill, Herefordshire, for Lidney and Chepstow. - In Gale's Essay on the four great Roman Ways, in the sixth volume of Leland's Itinerary, it is said, that part of the Ryknield-Street "is still extant in the counties of Gloucester, Worcester, Warwick and Stafford. In Warwickshire it is hardly lost through the whole county; and from Bidford, on the southern edge of it, it runs into Worcestershire, and taking its course through South Littleton goes on a little to the east of Evesham, and then by Hinton and west of Sedgebarrow into Gloucestershire near Ashton-under-Hill, and so by Beckford, Ashchurch, and a little east of Tewkesbury through Norton to Gloucester, from whence in all, probability it went to Oldbury, where formerly was the ferry or trajectus over Severn towards Caer-Gwent".
[396] Dr. Stukeley explains the Ad Antonam of the Romans to be Evesham, but it is more generally believed to have been near Sedgebarrow.
[397] Nash's Worcestershire.
[398] Fosbroke's Gloucester.
[399] Dr. Stukeley observes, that there was a road near the Severn, from Worcester to Upton, where antiquities have been dug up, and he conceives the town to be the Upocessa of Ravennas; this road, he asserts, continued to Tewkesbury, where it joined the Ryknield-Street. A ford over the brook, which divides Twyning from Ripple, on the present Worcester road, was called Street or Strat-Ford; and the bridge there is to this day called Stratford-bridge. "Sarn, Street, Stane and Stone (Strat and Stan when compounded) generally shew the course of a British or Roman way". Lemon's Comm. on Richard of Cirencester.
[400] Some remains of a Roman residence were recently discovered on the estate of Mrs. Hill, at the Leigh, adjoining the turnpike-road, about midway between Tewkesbury and Gloucester.
[401] The farmers in the neighbourhood of Bishop's Cleeve and Gothcrington, even within the last fifty years, were compelled to bring their corn into Tewkesbury market on the backs of horses - their roads being wholly impassable with waggons or carts.
[402] At a parish meeting, Jan. 23, 1725, it was resolved, that Mr. Conway Whithorn and Mr. Isaac Snook should he employed to solicit parliament for an act to repair the roads; if the bill succeeded, they were to be paid their expenses out of the benefit of the act, and if it miscarried, they were to be paid by the parish. - Church-warden's Books.
[403] Considerable opposition was made to this bill, particularly by Richard Dowdeswell, esq. of Forthampton, who presented a petition against it to the House, "setting forth that he had a passage or ferry over the Severn, called the Lower Lode, let for sixty pounds per annum, and prayed to be heard by council against the bill, which was granted". - Journals of the House of Commons. Mr. Dowdeswell appears to have had sufficient influence to get a clause introduced into the act, for exempting from turnpike-tolls all persons who crossed the Lower Lode Ferry, in their way to or from Tewkesbury. At that period, there was a bridle-road through Deerhurst to Gloucester, called the "lower way", which was directed by the act to be repaired by the trustees of the roads; and on account of the heavy expenses to which the inhabitants of Deerhurst were subject, in keeping the banks of the Severn in repair, in order to prevent this bridle-road from being overflowed, they were exempted from toll at the gates erected upon such "lower way".
[404] The following is the produce of the tolls on the Tewkesbury District of Roads, from June 19, 1760, to June 25, 1761, and is curious when contrasted with the present rental:-
Mythe£.75180¼     
Mitton and Bredon72155¼     
Barton-Street322211¼     
Hermitage97187½     
Lower Lode13149¾     
Knightsbridge65189¼     
 £.64887¼
At the letting of the tolls, Aug. 20, 1829, they produced the following sums:
Mythe, Ryall and Strensham Gates£.1320
Mitton and Bredon266
Crashmore96
Barton-Street and Isabel's Elm550
Todington170
Woolstone280
Hermitage and Lower Lode1180
Knightsbridge905
Birlingham76
 £.4843
[405] John Martin, esq. one of the representatives for the borough in parliament, gave £.2000, and Nicholson Calvert, esq. the other representative, gave £.1500, towards the reparation of the roads.
[406] Until within a few years, this road branched off to the eastward, a little beyond Shuthonger Common, passed through the centre of the village of Twyning, and from thence returned to Brockeridge Common - making a circuit of three times the distance of the present direct line.
[407] "King John, beyng Erle of Glocester by his wife, caussid the bridge of Tewkesbyri to be made of stone. He that was put in truste to do it, first made a stone bridge over the grete poure of booth the armes by north and weste: and after, to spede and spare mony, he made at the northe ende a wodde bridge of a greate length for sodeyne lande waters, putting the residew of the mony to making of the castel at Hanley on the inheritaunce of the Erledom of Glocester. King John gave to the mayntenaunce of this bridge the hole tolle of the Wensday and Saturday marketes in the towne, the which they yet possesse, turnyng it rather holely to their owne profite then reparation of the bridge".- Leland's Itin. vol. 6. p.90. edit. 1769.
[408] "Ther is a greate bridge of stone at the northe ende of the town, and ther a litle above the bridge, Avon brekith into two armes. Yet the bridge is so large that both cum under it. The right arme cummith into Severne withyn a flite shot of the bridge, and at the pointe of this arme is the town key for shippes caullid Picardes. The other arme cummith down by the side of the towne and the abbay: leving it on the este, and so passing harde ther by Holme Castelle, goith into Severne". - Leland's Itin.
[409] The following interesting particulars respecting the Tewkesbury Bridge Bill are extracted from the Journals of the House of Commons, vol. 1. p. 609, (19 James I. May 5, 1621):-
"Mr. Langston: For the body of the bill. That Gloucester, a county of itself, extending seven or eight miles round about; and, if they be left out, will have much benefit, some part of the said towns being within three miles of Tewkesbury. That therefore they may contribute. - Mr. Berkeley: That this bill against law and equity. By law, all towns corporate to bear their own charge of bridges. That Tewkesbury standeth near three other counties, which have more benefit than Gloucestershire. That they use it not almost at all. That they are able enough to do it. Gloucestershire never yet charged with it. That they are able to do it; for now in hand with a work which will cost £.3000. That they offer many wrongs to the county. - Sir D. Digges: Sorry the town hath offended this gentleman. No cause to desire an act of parliament, but that the act of parliament mentioned is against them. Not able. - Sir Edward Coke: To commit the bill. Commendeth both these two last speakers. There must be great cause to alter a law. He that hath the benefit is to bear the charge. Mr. Guy: Not against the body of the bill; against the clause to except Bristol, as part of the county of Gloucester; which no part. Not to have the extent into all parts of the shire, part whereof forty-live miles from Tewkesbury. Not to exceed ten miles from thence. - Mr. Wyld: For the bill; and for the extent through all the county of Gloucester; that no part of Worcestershire to be charged, because have a great charge of a bridge near at hand. - Sir William Cope: against the committing;- Mr. Robinson, contra. - Committed".
[410] The following is a copy of the order of court made upon this occasion, which is extracted from one of the corporation books:
"Gloucestershire. - Whereas there is a certeyne bridge, called the Long-Bridge, lying att the north-end of the towne of Tewkesbury, and leading towards the cittie of Worcester, conteyning above seven hundred yards in length, which is growne into great decay, and so hath beene for many yeares last past, by reason whereof divers of his majesties subjects travelling that way have beene unfortunately drowned. And for that it doth not appeare who in the memory of man have repayred the said bridge, nor who by law ought to doe itt: Therefore, to the end soe necessary a worke should bee effected, it is ordered by assent, that the county of Gloucester shall forthwith rayse, by way of contribucion, a competent some of money towards the repayre of the sayde bridge, which being once effected, the corporation of Tewkesbury doth offer to keepe and maynteyne the same. Provided that the contribucion of the whole county with the parish of Tewkesbury bee noe prejudice to the county, nor drawne into example for the future.- Per Curiam".
[411] It was originally intended to have built the bridge at the Lower Lode; by some the Upper Lode was considered to be a more suitable place; while many were advocates for the site which has since been adopted. The late John Rennie, esq. the celebrated engineer, who came from London expressly on the occasion, was decidedly of opinion that the most eligible situation for the bridge was about midway between the two Lodes, connecting it by an arched causeway across the Severn Ham to another bridge, to be thrown over the Avon, between Gloucester-placc and the Bowling-green. If Mr. Rennie's suggestion had been adopted, and propel economy observed, the shares in the bridge might now have been worth their original cost.
[412] Mr. Moneypenny brought an action against the trustees, for the non-fulfilment of their contract with him. The trustees pleaded the misconduct of their engineer, as a justification for their discharging him, and for withholding the per centage which they had agreed to pay him for superintending the work. The evidence of Mr. Telford, however, tended to prove that the first foundation was sufficient for a bridge of three arches, though not for a bridge of one arch. Mr. Moneypenny accordingly recovered £.750 damages, subject to a deduction of £.500 which he had subscribed towards the erection of the bridge. He subsequently, on an appeal to the court of chancery, recovered his costs in the suit, which, with the expenses incurred by the trustees, amounted to upwards of £.300 more.
[413] The iron-work was cast and erected by Mr. William Hazledine, of Shrewsbury, whose punctuality and honourable conduct, in this undertaking, justly obtained for him the unqualified approbation of the trustees. The weight of the cast-iron used in this bridge was upwards of three hundred tons, and that of the wrought-iron was more than six tons.
[414] Every part of the stone-work is neatly tooled on the outer face, exhibiting a fine specimen of masonry, highly creditable to Mr. Hugh M'Intosh, the contractor for the stone-work and embankments.
[415] The whole of the subscriptions amounted to £.20,400 (in shares of £.100 each). Only £.18,900 was received, the remainder being lost through the incompetency of some of the subscribers to pay the instalments of £.10 per cent, when they became due.
[416] The amount of money advanced by Mr. Taylor, to complete the undertaking, was £.16,000; the interest of this sum, at five per cent, together with the principal, is guaranteed by act of parliament to be paid off before any of the original subscribers can derive any benefit from the income arising from the tolls. In September 1829, the total outstanding charges, exclusive of the £.18,900 due to the original subscribers, was £.19,440. 1s. 9d.
[417] This road was planned by Mr. John Allen Stokes, of Worcester, and is still under his able superintendance.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in October 2015.

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