Looking back: When Vicars Bridge was built in 1848

Posted on - 18th March, 2013 - 9:30am | Author - | Posted in - History, Nostalgia
Not standing for much longer: The view across Vicars Bridge

Not standing for much longer: The view across Vicars Bridge

The ongoing demolition of the Vicars Bridge has drawn much interest from Blog Preston readers, so the article below by Bob Gregson will no doubt be of interest.


The bridge links Avenham and Miller Parks with Penwortham and onward to the Fishergate Shopping Centre and Preston railway station.

Here’s Gregson on when the bridge was built:


Vicars Bridge as it became known, was named after the vicarage nearby, which was the residence of the Rev. J.O. Parr, vicar of Saint George’s Church, off Lune Street. Other properties on the Cliff at that time were occupied by the Rev. J. Clay, Mr E. Harrison and Alderman German, respectively.

The bridge is a single span lattice girder type and was constructed by Mr Daglish’s company from components fabricated at his workshop in St. Helens, in accordance with Mr Fairbourn’s patent.

The finished work measured 140 ft. in length by 28 ft. 6 ins. in width, with a height of 25 ft. from the track bed to the underside of the girders. The box parapets are 9 ft. t ins. high by 18 ins. wide and are made up of inner and outer lattice work, comprising 3 and a half ins. x quarter ins. wrought-iron flat strip, riveted at the intersections, with horizontal and vertical bracing and riveted iron plates top and bottom. The underside has 15 transverse H section riveted iron girders, upon which timber planking was laid lengthwise.

This form of decking became unsuitable for heavier traffic, and was replaced in 1971 by a single-track bailey type structure with cantilever footbridge. The work was carried out by the Royal Engineers and was intended to be a temporary facility only, but when the R.E. get involved, the completed work is invariably of such good quality as to last for many years which, indeed, has been the case with this particular bridge.

The Bailey is secured by tensioned anchors on each abutment, and although it is located within the framework of the old structure, it is entirely independent of it.

Such is the condition of Vicars Bridge at the time of writing, that it will soon be unable to carry its own weight and will have to be removed. The bailey will remain in situ until plans are drawn up for a new bridge.

The south-east approach wall for the road comprises ashlar stone and measures 28 ft. 9 and a half ins. in length by 6 ft. from the road surface to the top of the coping stones and has a width of 27 ins.

There is a large capping stone at the east end, 7 ft. 2 ins. by 19 ins.; the smaller coping stones have a height of 8 ins. The northwest wall is 46 ft. 9 ins. long and the south-west wall has a length of 29 ft., curving round from east to south. Both walls have the same characteristics as the south-east one, and the north-east was removed some time ago to accommodate a stairway to the car park below.

It had been the original intention of the company to erect a three-arched brick bridge on the site, but such a structure would have seriously restricted the number of tracks entering the station and yard area.

This article by Bob Gregson was reproduced from his book The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway around Preston and originally appeared in the February/March 2013 issue of the Preston Magazine.

What do you think about the removal of Vicars Bridge? Do you have any memories or photos of it? Let us know in the comments below

Image credit to the Preston Digital Archive

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