Photographer's Note

Ouse Bridge York

The oldest place where there has been a bridge spanning the River Ouse is where Ouse bridge is now. It was on site as early as the ninth century. The reason it was replaced was because of an incident that occurred in 1154.

Potential tragedy lead to a Miracle

A large crowd had gathered on the bridge to welcome Archbishop William to York. More and more people came to join the crowd. As they waited with baited breath, the stone bridge collapsed. Many of the innocents on the bridge fell into the river, some being damaged by the stones falling after them. Miraculously, some believe, not one person who fell into the river was drowned. This miracle may have been part of the reason the Archbishop was later canonised and had a chapel named after him.

Disaster befell the first new bridge

The replacement bridge was supported by six arches. It was lined from river bank to river bank with houses, shops, a toll booth, a courthouse, a prison and the chapel dedicated to St William. In 1367, the first public toilets in England were installed on the bridge.

Extreme weather conditions hit York in 1564. A terrible winter was followed by massive thaws and flooding. The bridge all but collapsed and the buildings were swept down river.

Another new bridge

The next new bridge was built much higher, to combat future flooding. This also allowed increased access and thus, more water traffic. The bridge was supported on two central arches. Houses and public buildings were again built along its length. All was well for the next 250 years or so.

Present day Ouse bridge

After so long repairs became required, desperately. The Corporation of York decided to replace it for a final time. The present bridge was begun in 1810 and took 11 years to complete. For its first few years it was a toll bridge, so as to recover some of the costs of the extensive work. Eventually the first vehicles were allow to cross the Ouse free of charge. Notably these were carrying equipment and timber used in the repair of the Minster after the fire of 1829, started by the religious fanatic Jonathan Martin.

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Additional Photos by marion morgan (jester5) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 66 N: 610] (2024)
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