Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,708 pages of information and 235,205 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Cowley Bridges, Exeter

From Graces Guide
2021. Road bridge over former Bristol & Exeter Railway
Closer views of skewed arch, showing unusual arrangement of brickwork courses
JD 2021 Cowley Br 2.jpg
JD 2021 Cowley Br 3.jpg
2021. River Exe Bridge.
2021. River Exe Bridge.
2021. River Exe Bridge. Closer view showing unusual arrangement of brickwork courses
2021. River Exe Bridge.
2021. River Creedy Bridge.

There are three bridges close together on the road that is now the A377 between Exeter and Crediton. From Exeter these bridges are -

  • Road bridge over the main line, with a masonry arch having a pronounced degree of skew. Also known as Cowley Junction Bridge. Note: The photographs show the only accessible view, through a fence, and access is via busy roads, with no convenient parking.
  • Road bridge over the River Exe, of similar construction to the immediately adjacent bridge over the railway.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the Engineer for the line, but William Froude is generally credited with the design of the skewed arch bridges over the railway and over the River Exe. See here for more information.[1]. The angle of skew is approximately 45 degrees. Froude built a similar bridge over the Bristol-Exeter Rrailway 5 miles to the north, with a slightly larger amount of skew. See Rewe Skew Bridge. The arches of these three bridges embody Froude's unusual form of construction. The brickwork is more complex than in the more common helicoidal design, with the aim of having all the courses of bricks meeting the faces of the arch at right angles. This required the first two or three bricks in each course to be tapered. The bricklayers' opinions are not recorded.

Pynes Bridge is located nearby.

1844 'A report from the General Purposes Committee brought up the subject of old and new Cowley bridges. From the report, it appeared that no definite arrangement had yet been made with the Bristol and Exeter Railway Directors about giving up the old bridge. The Council Surveyor had reported that the new bridge, was not built so as to be a permanent substantial structure, and the Council consequently called on the Directors to undertake to keep the bridge in repair for 20 years, and this the present report recommended to be adhered to. On the other hand the directors state that, in the opinion of Mr. Brunel, and their other engineers, the bridge is well built, substantial and not likely to fall. They will not undertake to keep it in repair for any specific number of years, but agree to re-build it, should it fall from any defect in construction, within ten years.
After a short discussion the report was adopted.'[2]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Bill Harvey Associates Ltd.: Bridge of the Month No 8 August 2011, Cowley Junction, Exeter
  2. Western Times - Saturday 13 April 1844