- Grosvenor Bridge (Chester)
caption=Oblique view of the Grosvenor Bridge, taken from the South bank of the river.
mainspan=ft to m|200
height=ft to m|50
The Grosvenor Bridge is a single-span arch
road bridgeconstructed from stone. It crosses the River Dee at Chesterin England. The bridge is located on the A483 Grosvenor Road. Views upriver from the bridge include Chester castle and Handbridge. The view downstream from the bridge encompasses the impressive mansions of Curzon Parkand the adjacent Roodee. The Dee is a tidal river, with the result that the water level beneath the bridge can vary significantly during the day.
The bridge was designed by Thomas Harrison, and was opened by
Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeldon 17 October 1832, although it was not open to traffic until November 1833. At the time of its construction, the bridge was the longest single-span arch bridge in the world, a title that it retained for 30 years. It is a Grade I listed building.cite web |url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?pid=1&id=469818 |title=Images of England: Grosvenor Bridge |accessdate=2007-08-06 |publisher=English Heritage ]
At the beginning of the 19th century, Chester only had one river crossing, a narrow mediaeval bridge at
Handbridge, known as the "Old Dee Bridge". The bridge was heavily congested, delaying movement through the town. However, building a new bridge was prohibitively expensive until Thomas Telfordproposed building a new road between Shrewsburyand the Irish ferries at Holyhead, to facilitate trade between the two islands. As the route would have bypassed Chester, greatly reducing the potential income from the lucrative Irish trade routes, a committee was appointed to consider plans for a new bridge to quicken movement across the city and encourage traders to continue to stop at Chester.cite web |url=http://www.bwpics.co.uk/grosvenor.bridge.html |title=The Grosvenor Bridge |accessdate=2006-12-10 |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year= |month= |format= |work= |publisher=Black and White Picture Place |pages= ]
A design by renowned architect Thomas Harrison was chosen. Chester was at the time a major shipbuilding city, and a very tall arch, ft to m|60 high and ft to m|200 wide, was required to allow ships to pass underneath. This was the largest arch in the world, and the chief builder,
James Trubshaw, described this as "a lasting monument to the glory and superiority of Great Britain".
The bridge was originally to be built between
Chester Castleand WrexhamRoad. However, the ground here was soft, and Harrison was concerned that the mud would not be able to support the weight of the piers. Eventually, Thomas Telford found a drier area of land downstream, and the construction was moved to this site. In order to accommodate the move of the bridge, Wrexham Road was split into two, with one lane becoming a dead end, and the other turning to meet the bridge. The first stone of the bridge was laid by the Marquess of Westminster on 1 October 1827, and construction work took six years.
The bridge was formally opened by
Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeldand her daughter, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent (later to become Queen Victoria), who were driven through a triumphal archin the middle of the unfinished bridge to a 21-gun saluteon 17 October 1832. The bridge was not completed however until November 1833, and a toll was imposed on the bridge to pay the £50,000 construction costs, a large sum at the time. The toll was however harmful to trade in the city, and toll-fees were abolished in 1885, when maintenance was transferred to the Chester Corporation. However, Thomas Harrison never lived to see his bridge being completed, nor being opened by the Princess. He died in 1829, and the work was finished by his pupil, William Cole.
* [http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=CH4+8AD&layer=&ie=UTF8&t=h&om=1&z=16&ll=53.182134,-2.897869&spn=0.006069,0.021501 Scaleable satellite view of the Grosvenor Bridge from Google Maps]
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