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Shaldon Bridge viewed from Teignmouth

A view of Shaldon Bridge as seen from the roof of the Public Assembly Rooms. This engraving was published in 1830. The tiny Toll House seen at the right hand end of the bridge is still there.

Courtesy of Devon County Council


From The South Devon Monthly Museum

April 1st 1836


"This bridge, which is the longest in the United Kingdom, was erected at the expense of a joint-stock company, incorporated by, and acting under the authority of, an Act of Parliament passed in the session of 1824. The foundation stone was laid by William Langmead, Esq., of Elfordleigh near Plymouth, the chairman of the committee, on the 20th September following; but, in consequence of some unexpected difficulties in raising the necessary funds, the works were not proceeded with for nearly twelve months. In September 1825, the erection was commenced with spirit, and the bridge was opened for public passing on the 8th of June 1827. Her present majesty*, (then Duchess of Clarence) passed over it on the 14th of July following on her way to Plymouth, on which occasion triumphal arched were erected at each end of the bridge, and the bridge itself was literally crammed with spectators.


The  bridge is erected on a plan altogether new, designed by Roger Hopkins Esq., of Plymouth, civil engineer, and executed under his directions. It consists of twenty-eight arches of thirty feet span, one arch of sixty feet, four arches of forty feet, a swing bridge of thirty feet which opens into two parts so as to admit vessels of even from three to four hundred tons burthen to pass, and retaining walls and abutments on each side, making the whole length of the bridge, from high-water mark on the one side to high- water-mark on the other, 1,671 feet, or just one third of a mile. The arches are constructed of iron and timber, supported on columns, and the road-way and footpaths are of the combined width of 24 feet. The entire cost of the undertaking was about £26,000, of which £19,000 were expended in the construction of the works, and the remainder in the purchase of the ferry rights and the defraying of other incidental expenses.


The advantages of this bridge are very great, both in a local and national point of view, the former arising from the substitution of a commodious bridge and its approaches for an inconvenient and dangerous ferry, which could only be avoided by a circuit of fourteen miles, and the latter in opening, by means of the bridge, and the roads lately made in the neighbourhood, a direct communication from Exeter, along the coast to Torbay - a communication long desired by military and naval men, and which may prove of the greatest importance to this country in unforeseen emergencies. This bridge forms also a connecting link with the new coast roads between Exeter and Plymouth, which pass through a highly picturesque district, and the towns of Starcross, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Torquay, Paignton and Dartmouth.


Since its erection, Teignmouth and Torquay, which before were much frequented as fashionable watering places, have considerably increased in size, as well as in accommodation and attractions. The former is principally resorted to during the summer season (although many highly respectable families often remain during the winter also) on account of the peculiar facilities it affords for sea bathing, the salubrity of the air, and the many attractive and picturesque walks and rides with which the neighbourhood abounds. The latter is justly celebrated as a winter residence on account of the excessive mildness of the air, and is therefore often recommended to invalids in the incipient stages of consumption. Teignmouth and Torquay certainly surpass in magnitude and fashionable celebrity, all the watering places on the Devonshire coast, and the erection of this bridge has materially contributed towards their success."


*The Duchess of Clarence, later Queen Adelaide, was the wife of King William IV. None of their  children survived for long so after William's death, it was his niece, Victoria, who became Queen in succession  to him.


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