Bideford Long Bridge: A Remarkable Medieval Wonder of Engineering

Bideford Long Bridge, also known simply as Bideford Bridge.

A historic structure located in the town of Bideford, Devon, England.

An ancient New Year’s Eve tradition was to run across the Long Bridge during the time taken for the bells of St. Mary’s parish church, near the west end, to chime at midnight.

In this blog post, we’ll take you on a journey to explore the Bideford Long Bridge, a stunning example of medieval engineering that has captivated locals and visitors alike for centuries.

Built in the late 13th century, reconstructed between 1474 and 1475
It has 24 pointed arches made of local sandstone, spanning the River Torridge
It has the length measures Approximately 677 feet (206 meters)
Importance: Grade I-listed bridge and an essential part of the town’s heritage
History: Original wooden structure destroyed by flood in 1472, underwent various repairs and modifications over the centuries
Significance: Influenced numerous other bridges in the region and around the world
Preservation: Saved from demolition in the 1960s by local campaigners, underwent preservation efforts in recent years
Current use: Serves as a vital transportation link for the town of Bideford, as well as a beloved landmark and tourist attraction

History of Bideford Bridge

The original Bideford Bridge was built in the late 13th century.

It was a wooden structure (made from oak wood) that crossed the River Torridge and connected the town of Bideford to East-the-Water.

Unfortunately, this bridge was destroyed by a severe flood in 1472, and a new bridge was constructed between 1474 and 1475 using local sandstone.

Bideford Long Bridge
Bideford Long Bridge

The new bridge was a significant engineering feat for its time and was considered one of the most impressive structures in the region.

The bridge was a vital transportation link for goods and produced, enabling farmers and merchants to transport their goods across the river and to markets in Bideford and beyond.

Over the centuries, the bridge underwent various repairs and modifications to maintain its structural integrity and ensure it continued to serve the needs of the community.

This includes widening the bridge and adding lamps to light the bridge at night.

The newly widened and strengthened bridge continued to serve the town well as a link between its two halves and a tourist attraction.

But, tourism was halted in 1939 with the outbreak of war and for over the next six years, the bridge was guarded by the Bideford German ‘Invasion Plan’ maps clearly showing the bridge as the target.

Bideford Long Bridge History Video

Here is a video showing the historic Bideford Bridge collapsed and fell into the River Torridge on January 9, 1968.

  • The video shows a family photo compilation where it shows the collapsed Bideford Long Bridge due to the flood.
  • Fortunately, there are no casualties but it greatly affected the people using the bridge where they need to do a detour to get to the other side or ride a ferry to cross the river.
  • It took a long time to repair the bridge and for the people of Bideford to use it once again.

You may also check the Bideford Long Bridge Collapsed for more information on what happened and its restoration.

Featured Places to Stay Near Bideford

Uncovering Bideford Long Bridge’s Unique Features

As you wander through the charming streets of Bideford, you can’t miss the grandeur of the Bideford Long Bridge, also known as Bideford Bridge.

This Grade I-listed bridge, with its 24 pointed arches, spans the majestic River Torridge, acting as a vital transportation link and an iconic landmark.

But this bridge is more than just a means of crossing the river, it holds within its ancient structure a wealth of intriguing traditions and natural wonders.

Bideford Long Bridge at night
Bideford Long Bridge at night

The bridge’s design and construction techniques have influenced numerous other bridges in the region and around the world.

Its construction, which used local materials and expertise, was a significant feat of engineering and demonstrates the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its creators.

Starlings Roosting Underneath

In the winter months, as dusk descends upon Bideford, a breathtaking sight unfolds beneath the Bideford Long Bridge.

Thousands of starlings gather in large flocks, gracefully swirling and swooping through the air before settling to roost underneath the arches.

This natural spectacle has become a beloved attraction for both nature enthusiasts and curious onlookers, as they marvel at the symphony of movement and the captivating beauty of these feathered creatures.

Preservation of the Long Bridge

Despite its historical importance, the Bideford Long Bridge faced a significant threat of demolition in the 1960s due to its age and condition.

However, the bridge was saved by the efforts of local campaigners, who raised awareness of its significance and importance to the town’s heritage.

Bideford Long Bridge by @patsfocus
Bideford Long Bridge by @patsfocus

Today, the bridge stands as a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its creators and continues to serve as a vital transportation link for the town.

In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve the bridge and ensure its continued use.

The project also included the installation of new lighting, benches, and railings, making the bridge safer and more comfortable for pedestrians.

And Finally

The Bideford Long Bridge is a remarkable medieval structure that has stood the test of time and continues to serve as a vital transportation link for the town of Bideford.

Its history, architecture, and design demonstrate the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its creators and have influenced numerous other bridges in the region and around the world.

Despite facing a significant threat of demolition in the past, the bridge has been preserved thanks to the efforts of local campaigners who recognized its historical significance and importance to the town’s heritage.

Today, the bridge remains a beloved landmark in Bideford and a testament to the town’s rich history and culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about the Bideford Long Bridge.

Q: How long is Bideford Bridge?
A: Bideford Bridge is approximately 677 feet long.

Q: What is the history of the Bideford Bridge?
A: The first Bideford bridge was built in the 13th century and has since undergone several rebuilds and renovations.

Q: What is Bideford famous for?
A: Bideford is a historic port town in Devon, England, known for its maritime heritage and quaint, narrow streets lined with unique shops and businesses.

Q: How old is Bideford Bridge?
A: The original Bideford bridge was constructed in the 13th century, making it over 800 years old.

Q: When was Bideford’s new bridge built?
A: The current Bideford Bridge, also known as the Long Bridge, was built in the 1920s to replace the previous structure that was no longer fit for purpose.

Author Matt Ogborne
Matt Ogborne
About the Author

Welcome to! 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.

Do you want to see your favourite Bideford attraction, place to stay, event or activity listed here? Contact Us!