Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Iron Bridge, Brabyns Park, Marple

The Iron Bridge is one of a very few cast iron bridges surviving from the period when it was built, in 1813, for the then owner of the Brabyns Estate, Nathaniel Wright. Its purpose was as a carriage bridge across the River Goyt, creating access to Wright's estate from the village of Compstall. The bridge was one of the world's first cast iron bridges and is one of the few remaining from the period.

The Iron Bridge was deemed to be dangerous in 1991 and a temporary "Bailey" type footbridge was installed to carry pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists over the River Goyt. The restoration project started in 2003 and works to restore the bridge started in September 2007. The restored bridge was opened on the 22nd June 2008.

Near to the Iron Bridge is a tree stump carved by chainsaw artist Andrew Frost. It is fitted with a bronze plaque commemorating the restoration of the bridge. More information about the restoration project can be found on the Marple UK website. Since I took these photographs in 2009 the viewing platform has been much improved.

These are the words on the plaque:
Nathaniel Wright purchased the Brabyns Estate in 1800. Wright was a wealthy coalminer who owned pits at Poynton and was a contemporary of Samuel Oldknow. Oldknow considered using cast iron for the construction of Bottoms Bridge near to his Mellor Mill around the time Wright moved to Marple but chose the reliability of stone over this modern and relatively untried method. Cast iron was also considered for the Marple Aqueduct but designer Benjamin Outram opted for an all-stone construction too. So it was that Wright became possibly the first in the Northwest to use this modern material for a bridge when he decided that he needed access to his estate over the River Goyt from the direction of what is now Compstall.

At the turn of the 19th century the Salford Iron Works was a substantial Iron Foundry operated by James Bateman and William Sherratt. Their association with Wright began when they supplied him with a pumping engine for one of his coalmines in 1795. Sherratt was an engineer of considerable repute and it is easy to imagine him telling his friend Wright that he could build him a bridge of iron that would impress his peers. In 1813 he did just that when he constructed the slender and elegant cast iron carriage bridge with a personalised ‘W’ motif for Wright on his Brabyns estate. Despite sharing some similarities in design with several other cast iron bridges of the time this is the only one of its kind known to have been built by the Salford Iron Works.

Today the Brabyns Iron Bridge is a listed structure of national importance. As the only known surviving cast iron bridge of its kind in the Northwest it is now a unique example and is of particular importance because it has remained intact since its original construction without alteration or significant loss of fabric. The bridge survived in daily use with minimal maintenance until 1990, when a structural survey determined that it was at risk. In 1991 a Bailey bridge was erected across it as a temporary measure, allowing it to remain intact until the funds could be found to conduct proper repairs.

A contribution to ABC Wednesday.


  1. These are very IMPRESSIVE structures, and lovely!
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  2. Fascinating bridge and history. I can't even begin to imagine the cast used to make it. The tree stump art is equally fascinating to me too since I've never seen anything like it.

  3. Looks invincible!

    abcw team

  4. Iternesting and Impressive indeed

    PhenoMenon, ABCW Team

  5. Even before reading your text my thought was, O wow, there are not many iron bridges left! Thanks for the interesting info about this noteworthy bridge!