Pulteney is a rare surviving example of a bridge with shops built across its full span on both sides. It is the only one of its kind in Britain and one of only four found anywhere in the World.
The other three bridges include: Ponte Vecchio: Bridge of Gold in Florence – Italy, Ponte Rialto in Venice – Italy and Krämerbrücke in Erfurt – Germany.
This exceptional structure represents and age when imagination drove new buildings and opportunities. The bridge was classed an ancient monument In 1936 and has been designated as a Grade I listed building in a city with World Heritage status.
Pulteney Bridge was the brainchild of William Johnstone who is said to have named the bridge after his wife Frances Pulteney. William and Frances had inherited an estate across the river from the City of Bath but were forced to cross the River Avon by ferry. With money to invest and a desire to see a new suburb created, Johnstone successfully championed the idea of a new bridge. As a wealthy Scottish lawyer and Member of Parliament Johnstone, who later changed his name to Pulteney, was well positioned to make this happen.
The design was created by the renowned architect Robert Adam who chose the Palladian style. Construction was started in 1770 and the bridge was completed by 1774. Johnstone’s new Georgian suburb of Bathwick was finally connected to the city. The building work is said to have been undertaken by local masons ‘Reed and Lowther’ together with ‘Singers and Lankeshere’ and cost around £11,000 – roughly 3.5 million in today’ currency.
Over the decades it was modified and expanded particularly after it was damaged by floods in 1799 and again in 1800. The rarity of this kind of bridge has long been appreciated by architects, historians and the people of Bath. Over more than two centuries efforts have been made to rebuild, preserve and enhance the structure. During the 20th Century various projects were carried out to try and restore the bridge to its original appearance. The façade was restored to its original condition and completed in time for the Festival of Britain which took place in 1951. The bridge is now 18 metres (58 ft) wide and 45 metres (148 ft) in length. It has been a tourist attraction since the day it was built and is one of the defining architectural masterpieces that should be seen when visiting the City of Bath.
FILMS AND BOOKS
The weir below the bridge was used as the film location for the suicide Javert’s in the 2013 film version of Les Misérables. Pulteney Bridge has also featured in many novels including ‘Bleed for Me’ by Michael Robotham, ‘Spring Music’ by Elvi Rhodes and ‘Missing You’ by Louise Douglas.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Spout Lane, Nr Seend, Melksham
Wiltshire, England, SN12 6RN
+44 (0)1380 828 839
- Address: Bridge Street, Bath, Somerset, England, United Kingdom, BA2 4AY
- GPS: 51.3828071,-2.358696900000041
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: BA2 4AY
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: Excellent
- Visibility from Road: Excellent
- Image Credits: Chris Dorney