A Tale of Disaster and Restoration of Bideford Long Bridge

Bideford Long Bridge by @patsfocus
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In the beautiful town of Bideford, Devon, a historic landmark known as the Bideford Long Bridge once stood tall, spanning the River Torridge.

However, in the year 1968, this iconic structure experienced a catastrophic collapse, sending shockwaves through the local community.

Today, we dig into the events surrounding the Bideford Long Bridge collapse, examining how it happened and the remarkable journey of its repair.

Key Takeaways
The Bideford Long Bridge collapsed in 1968, severing a vital connection between the eastern and western parts of the town.
The collapse was caused by a combination of factors, including age, heavy traffic, and erosion of the bridge’s foundations due to the River Torridge.
The restoration efforts involved careful planning, engineering expertise, and collaboration between local authorities, engineers, and construction teams.
The repaired bridge incorporated modern engineering techniques, stronger materials, and enhanced structural designs to ensure its stability and longevity.

The Collapse of the Bridge

On a fateful day in 1968, the Bideford Long Bridge succumbed to the forces of nature, crumbling into the river below.

The bridge collapse sent debris crashing into the water, leaving a void where the bridge once stood, and severing the vital connection between the eastern and western parts of the town.

The sudden loss of this essential transport link caused significant disruption to the local community.

Here is an old video showing the damage that happened to the iconic bridge of Bideford.

  • In this video, you will see the damage that happened on the Bideford Bridge
  • People are checking the extent of the damage and using a boat to check it closely.

The bridge collapse in 1968 was a devastating event that left a void where the Bideford Long Bridge once stood, causing significant disruption to the local community.

Featured Places to Stay Near Bideford

The Cause of The Collapse

Investigations into the collapse revealed that a combination of factors contributed to the failure of the Bideford Long Bridge.

Collapsed Bideford Long Bridge
Collapsed Bideford Long Bridge

It was found that the structural integrity of the bridge had been compromised over the years due to factors such as age, heavy traffic, and exposure to the elements.

The relentless flow of the River Torridge had eroded the foundations of the bridge, weakening its supports and ultimately leading to its collapse.

The Restoration Efforts

Following the collapse, swift action was taken to restore the Bideford Long Bridge and reconnect the divided town.

The repair process involved meticulous planning, engineering expertise, and the collaborative efforts of local authorities, engineers, and construction teams.

Firstly, the damaged sections of the bridge were carefully removed from the river, taking care to minimize any further disruption to the surrounding environment.

Bideford Long Bridge Restoration
Bideford Long Bridge Restoration

Next, a detailed examination of the remaining structures was conducted to assess the extent of the damage and devise a suitable repair strategy.

To reinforce the bridge’s stability, modern engineering techniques were employed.

Strengthening the foundations and support became a priority.

The repaired bridge incorporated more robust materials and enhanced structural designs, ensuring its longevity and ability to withstand the river’s forces.

Finally, after months of intensive efforts, the restored Bideford Long Bridge was unveiled to the public, predicting a triumph over adversity.

The bridge once again provided a vital link for the community, enabling the smooth flow of traffic and reuniting the town.

And Finally

The collapse of the Bideford Long Bridge in 1968 was a traumatic event for the local community, severing an important connection and disrupting daily life.

However, through determination, expertise, and collaboration, the bridge was successfully repaired, becoming a symbol of resilience and progress.

Bideford Long Bridge
Bideford Long Bridge

The restoration efforts not only reinstated the physical structure but also revitalized the spirit of Bideford, showcasing the unwavering commitment of its residents.

Today, the Bideford Long Bridge stands as a testament to human ingenuity and the ability to overcome challenges, serving as a reminder of the town’s rich history and the importance of preserving its architectural heritage for future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about the collapse that happened on the Bideford Bridge.

Q: What change happened to the Bideford Bridge in the years 1795-1810? A: During the years 1795-1810, intermittent work was conducted to widen the Bideford bridge by 4 feet. This was achieved by constructing semi-circular arches against the spandrels of the pointed arches on each side of the bridge. Additionally, the parapets were rebuilt using Penarth Ashlar stone.

Q: What is the history of the Bideford Bridge?
A: The history of the Bideford Bridge dates back to its initial construction around 1280. Originally a pack horse bridge, it transitioned from its wooden origins to become a robust stone structure over the centuries. The bridge replaced a ford, and it is widely believed that the town derived its name from this ford (by the ford).

Q: How old is the Bideford Bridge?
A: According to the Devon historian William George Hoskins, the first Bideford bridge was built in the last quarter of the 13th century using oak wood. The sections between piers were not of uniform length, as they were determined by the availability of different lengths of timber.

Q: When was Bideford’s new bridge built?
A: The Bideford new bridge, known as the Torridge Bridge, was constructed in 1987. This 650-meter-long concrete bridge spans the River Torridge and is situated in an east-west direction in Bideford, Devon.

Q: What is Bideford known for?
A: Bideford is renowned for several aspects of its history and landmarks. The town’s impressive historical buildings, many of which were constructed by prosperous ship owners, contribute to its charm. The Bideford Long Bridge, built in 1474, is particularly noteworthy, featuring 24 arches that span the river and connect Bideford to the area known as ‘East the Water.’ It is also worth mentioning that the famous author Charles Kingsley wrote a significant portion of his renowned work, ‘Westward Ho!,’ while in Bideford.

Author Matt Ogborne
Matt Ogborne
About the Author

Welcome to Bideford.com! I’m Matt, a seasoned explorer and avid fan of Bideford and the broader North Devon area. With over a decade of consistent family visits, virtually every weekend, I’ve immersed myself in the rich history and vibrant culture Bideford & North Devon.

On this site, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge amassed from my adventures here. From in-depth local guides to engaging blog posts about Bideford. Whether you’re looking for recommendations on things to do or guidance on where to stay we have you covered. Join me as we delve into the heart of Bideford, North Devon – a town that’s more than just a destination, but an experience waiting to be discovered.

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