Bridges

Bridges

It will come as no startling revelation that a place such as Dartmoor with all its rivers, streams, brooks, leats and to some extent railways and other man-made obstacles will have numerous ways of crossing them. Ever since man set foot upon the moor there has been a need to cross the many waters without getting a soaking and over the millennia he has certainly met that need in one form or another. In the main it is fair to say that due to the propensity of stone to be found on Dartmoor the majority of bridges have been built from it in one form or another.

The oldest type of bridge to be found on Dartmoor is the Clapper which can consist of a single slab of stone laid over a stream or leat right up to a multi slab construction with piers that lie across rivers. It is uncertain how far back in time these structures date but certainly there are examples in other parts of Britain that are thought to be of prehistoric construction. I think it is possible that on well trodden tracts that prehistoric folk built clappers across waterways, after all if they had the ability to quarry the huge standing stones then in theory a simple clapper bridge would have been no problem. The actual name ‘clapper’ is derived from an Anglo Saxon word ‘cleac‘ which may well suggest they were around during that period. Today it is estimated that there are around 200 clapper bridges still spanning Dartmoor’s waters and for a fact many more have disappeared. In much later times as the trans-moor traffic became busier the clappers needed to be bigger in order to carry pack horses and carts, this is when we see such constructions as the Postbridge Clapper appearing.

Bridges

We then come another type of Dartmoor bridge in the form of ‘Clams’ which are best described as being wooden footbridges. These normally occur around watercourses which are near to settlements and being constructed of wood are clearly less durable than clappers. For this very reason the early clams were seldom located on the actual open moor as they would not have withstood the flood waters and harsh weather conditions. Once again, it’s uncertain how early this type of bridge dated back to but they are still being constructed today, although the modern ones are of a much more modern and sturdier construction. It is also fair to say that the appearance of the modern clams, in some eyes, are not within keeping of the traditional landscape, one such case is the newly constructed Lustleigh Clam.

Bridges

As the road networks improved many of the old clapper bridges were replaced by arched bridges with single or multiple piers which were a much more solid construction. Many appeared as turnpike bridges during the establishment of the turnpike roads and were often built alongside existing clapper bridges such as that at Bellever Bridge, as can be seen below (along with the various bridge component names). By no means was the arch design new to the times and can be credited to the Romans who first realised that an arch was a much more solid structure which could support greater weights. These new bridges allowed wider and heavier loads to cross as trade and traffic increased over the centuries.

Bridges

A statue laid down by Henry VIII in 1531 ensured that at least somebody was made responsible for the maintenance of bridges. This statue basically directed that if no landowner, City, Borough, Town. Parish etc. could be proven to be those charged with bridge maintenance then the duty fell upon the County or Shire. These particular bridges became known as ‘County Bridges’ and the funds for repairs came from taxes levied on the inhabitants of the area. To ensure these taxes were collected County Surveys were appointed, it was also their duty to oversee any repair work that needed doing. The act required that for every bridge, the road over it and for 300ft on either approach should be similarly maintained. In 1841 the Devon magistrates decided that the limits of their responsibility were to be marked by boundstones. These usually were about 3 feet high with an incised ‘C’ on one of the faces and placed one on either side of the bridge, and are known as ‘C Stones‘. This statue remained in place until 1880 when the County Councils were formed and adopted responsibility. The County Bridges listed on the gazetteer below are those that still have one or more C Stones in-situ.

The actual bridge names are also an interesting mixture of ones with a locational element, these tend to either consist of the actual place-name of where they are sited, i.e.. Chagford Bridge or name the watercourse they span, i.e. Dart Bridge. There are then those that have adopted a personal element such as Barrett’s Bridge and can be identified by the ‘s, although this type tends to be in the minority of bridge names.

In this modern day and age the biggest problem bridges face is the size of vehicles trying to use them, quite simply when they were constructed the size of vehicle using them was much, much smaller. In this modern age the size of cars and especially lorries has vastly increased and since around the early 1900s has caused major problems. Many of the older bridges have weight and size restrictions but even so damage and congestion is a common occurrence. The picture below shows that for many years it has been a hazardous task for drivers of wide vehicles to safely pass over the bridges, in this case Newbridge sometime in the early 60s.

Bridges

As mentioned previously, it’s not only water that Dartmoor bridges cross, their are several viaducts and embankments on the moor, mainly which carried railways or tramways across stretches of moorland and other man-made obstacles. In addition the odd aqueduct can be found carrying water to mines and other industrial sites. There are even a couple of crossing points that have entered Dartmoor’s place-name history as being a bridge when in fact they were simply a plank placed across a watercourse, i.e.. Tinker’s Bridge.

The latest bridge to have been constructed on the very edge of Dartmoor is the brand, spanking, new bridge which carries a cycle link across the river Walkham. At a cost of £2 million pounds, Gem Bridge was opened in May 2012 and replaces an original viaduct which was built by I. K. Brunel – more details – HERE.

Below are two gazetteers, the first one lists some of the major Dartmoor road bridges and the second a few of the more notable clappers and clams. By no means are these lists complete but consist of the ones I have found in various books, magazines, records and on maps. Many have been taken from Mike Brown’s Dartmoor Gazetteer. The entries in blue are linked to other web pages within this site as there is some noteworthy story or history attached to them.

Place OS Grid Ref Comments
ABBEY BRIDGE SX ???      ???  
AISH BRIDGE SX 6900 5990  
ASH BRIDGE SX 6779 9059  
BADWORTHY BRIDGE SX 6853 6180  
BAGTOR BRIDGE SX 7690 7554  
BARNSLEY BRIDGE SX 7548 7046  
BARRAMOOR BRIDGE SX 7175 8341  
BARRETT’S BRIDGE SX 5123 8206  
BARTER’S BRIDGE SX 7412 6612  
BEADON BRIDGE SX 8177 8189  
BEARDOWN BRIDGE SX 6031 7530  
BECKAFORD BRIDGE SX 7561 7996  
BEDFORD BRIDGE SX 5040 7035 AKA Magpie Bridge or Sticklepath Bridge
BEETOR BRIDGE SX 7085 8505 AKA Byttor Bridge
BELLAFORD BRIDGE SX 6583 7732 AKA Bellever Bridge.
BELLEVER BRIDGE SX 6583 7732 AKA Bellaford Bridge. – County Bridge
BITTAFORD BRIDGE SX 6661 5699  
BLACKA BROOK BRIDGE SX 5880 7498  
BLACKATON BRIDGE SX 6771 8882  
BLACKATON BRIDGE SX 6956 7783  
BOVEY BRIDGE SX 7377 8372  
BRENT BRIDGE SX 6973 5955 County Bridge
BRIDFORD BRIDGE SX 8340 8720  
BUCKLAND BRIDGE SX 7189 7195  
BUDLEIGH BRIDGE SX 7625 8544 Now called One Mill Bridge
BURCOMBE BRIDGE SX 5790 6731 Originally a wooden bridge built from beams from Buckland Abbey
BYTTOR BRIDGE SX 7085 8505 AKA Beetor Bridge.
CADOVER BRIDGE SX 5552 6462 County Bridge
CHAGFORD BRIDGE SX 6936 8795  
CHALLACOMBE BRIDGE SX 6942 7959  
CHAPPLE BRIDGE SX 8028 7759  
CHRISTOW BRIDGE SX 8373 8670 No longer visible.
CHRISTOW NEW BRIDGE SX 8373 8670  
CHURCH BRIDGE SX 7419 6619  
CLIFFORD BRIDGE SX 7810 8977  
COCKINGFORD BRIDGE SX 7170 7508 County Bridge
COCKSLAND BRIDGE SX 7770 7440  
COMBE BRIDGE SX 7031 6810  
COW BRIDGE SX 6614 8642  
COX LAKE BRIDGE SX 6521 7405  
CRANDFORD BRIDGE SX 534     873  
CROCKHAM BRIDGE SX 8466 8115 AKA Crocombe Bridge.
CROCOMBE BRIDGE SX 8466 8115 AKA Crockham Bridge.
CUDDYFORD BRIDGE SX 7580 7093  
CULLAFORD BRIDGE SX 7081 6790  
CURLICOMBE BRIDGE SX 6930 8290  
DAMERALL’S BRIDGE SX 7412 6612  
DART BRIDGE SX 7448 6672 County Bridge
DARTMEET BRIDGE SX 6719 7318   
DEAN BURN BRIDGE SX 7327 6514  
DEVIL’S BRIDGE SX 5805 7288 Originally a culvert.
DEWERSTONE BRIDGE SX 5349 6432  
DICKFORD BRIDGE SX 7481 8370  
DIDWORTHY BRIDGE SX 6828 6212  
DOGAMARSH BRIDGE SX 7130 8931 AKA Sandy Bridge.
DOGHOLE BRIDGE SX 8427 8170 The lowest point on Dartmoor 89ft ASL
DRAKEFORD BRIDGE SX 7895 8013 AKA New Bridge, Letford Bridge,
DUNNA BRIDGE SX 6445 7460  
DUNSTONE BRIDGE SX 7178 7578  
ESSARY BRIDGE SX 55?? 68?? Now submerged under Burrator Reservoir
FATHERFORD VIADUCT SX 6030 9472  
FAIRBROOK BRIDGE SX 7403 8361  
FARDEL BRIDGE SX 6149 5771  
FERNWORTHY BRIDGE SX 662? 839? Now submerged.
FICE’S BRIDGE SX 5777 7584  
FINGLE BRIDGE SX 7430 8995  
FIRTH BRIDGE SX 6975 8088  
FISHERMAN’S BRIDGE SX 6475 7410  
FORDE BRIDGE SX 5025 8312  
FORDER BRIDGE SX 6592 8983  
GEM BRIDGE SX 4952 7050 New 2012 construction
GIDLEIGH PARK BRIDGE SX 6778 8794  
GIDLEY BRIDGE SX 7032 6381 AKA Gigley Bridge.
GIGLEY BRIDGE SX 7032 6381 AKA Gidley Bridge.
GLAZE BRIDGE SX 6773 5991  
GOODAMEAVY BRIDGE SX 5290 6461  
GRATTON FORD BRIDGE SX 5293 6702  
GREAT BRIDGE SX 7538 7026  
GREEN BRIDGE SX 8200 8885  
GRENDON BRIDGE SX 6880 7851  
GRENOFEN BRIDGE SX 4900 7098  
HALF BRIDGE SX 5020 7670  
HALL LANE BRIDGE SX5361 9021  
HALSTOCK BRIDGE SX 5994 9363  
HARBENFORD BRIDGE SX 7178 6231 County Bridge
HARFORD BRIDGE SX 5059 7675  
HARFORD BRIDGE SX 6363 5965  
HARP’S BRIDGE SX 7419 6619  
HAYTOR EMBANKMENT SX 7608 7770 Carries the tramway over tinner’s works
HENSROOST BRIDGE SX 6550 7099  
HEXWORTHY BRIDGE SX 6589 7289  
HIGHBURY BRIDGE SX 6780 8850  
HIGHER CHERRYBROOK BRIDGE SX 6340 7699  
HIGHER HAZELDON BRIDGE SX 4949 7623  
HIGHER MEAVY BRIDGE SX 5460 6699 AKA Marchant’s Bridge
HILL BRIDGE SX 5320 8038 Replaced an older clapper bridge. County Bridge
HISLEY BRIDGE SX 779     800 Possibly Histley Bridge.
HOLNE BRIDGE SX 7301 7059 Built in 1413. County Bridge
HOLY BROOK BRIDGE SX 7023 6877  
HONEYPOOL BRIDGE SX 6591 8980  
HOO MEAVY BRIDGE SX 5621 6567  
HOOK’S BRIDGE SX7777 7366  
HORNDON BRIDGE SX 5229 7950  
HORRABRIDGE SX 5132 6992 County Bridge
HUCCABY BRIDGE SX 6589 7289 County Bridge
HUCKWORTHY BRIDGE SX 5314 7053  
HUNTINGDON BRIDGE  SX 6671 6706  
HUNTINGDON CLAPPER  SX 6570 6619  
HYNER BRIDGE SX 8368 8168  
IRON BRIDGE SX 5730 7139 An Aqueduct. that carries the Devonport Leat
JUBILEE BRIDGE SX 6636 5772  
JURSTON BRIDGE SX 6978 8500  
KING’S BRIDGE SX 7600 8567  
KINGSETT BRIDGE SX 5779 6980  
KITT’S BRIDGE SX 5206 8444  
LADY’S WOOD BRIDGE SX 685     594 Has SS 1944 inscribed in cement.
LAKE VIADUCT SX 5335 8890  
LANGAFORD BRIDGE SX 7019 8495  
LANGHAM BRIDGE SX 6081 5914 County Bridge
LANGWORTHY BRIDGE SX 7600 7370  
LEIGH BRIDGE SX 6832 8764  
LEIGHON BRIDGE SX 7540 7934  
LETFORD BRIDGE SX 7895 8013 AKA New Bridge, Drakeford Bridge,
LIZWELL BRIDGE SX 7199 7410  
LOWER BRIDGE SX 6962 6037  
LOWER CHERRYBROOK BRIDGE SX 6311 7481  
LOWER MEAVY BRIDGE SX 5385 6719  
LOWER SIGFORD BRIDGE SX 7760 7378  
LUSTLEIGH CLAPPER SX 753? 828  
LYDFORD BRIDGE SX 5094 8457 County Bridge
LYDFORD VIADUCT SX 5135 8468  
LYDIA BRIDGE SX 6959 6068  
MAGPIE BRIDGE SX 5040 7035 AKA Bedford Bridge or Sticklepath Bridge
MANATON CLAPPER SX 753? 828  
MARCHANT’S BRIDGE SX 5460 6699 AKA Higher Meavy Bridge
MARDLE BRIDGE SX 7360 6625  
MARY TAVY BRIDGE SX 4988 7885  
MELDON VIADUCT SX 5650 9234  
MERRIVALE BRIDGE SX 5500 7508 County Bridge
METHERAL BRIDGE SX 6751 8410  
MIDDLE BRIDGE SX 6577 9442  
MILL BRIDGE SX 6972 5954  
MUCKS HOLE BRIDGE SX 6478 7945  
NEW BRIDGE SX 7113 7989  
NEW BRIDGE SX 7564 8001  
NEW BRIDGE SX 7895 8013 AKA Letford Bridge, Drakeford Bridge,
NEW BRIDGE SX 822? 884? AKA Week Bridge.
NORSWORTHY BRIDGE SX 5678 6939 County Bridge
NORTH BOVEY BRIDGE SX 7377 8371  
NORTHWAY BRIDGE SX 7207 7683  
OCKERY BRIDGE SX 5950 7419  
OLDER BRIDGE SX 5982 7054  
ONE MILL BRIDGE SX 7625 8544 Once known as Budleigh Bridge
ONE STONE BRIDGE SX 5266 8177  
OWLACOMBE BRIDGE SX 7714 7360  
OWLEY BRIDGE SX 6773 5995  
PACKSADDLE BRIDGE SX 7891 8024  
PAYNE’S BRIDGE SX 6580 9158  
PENNATON BRIDGE SX 6843 5929  
PENNSLAND BRIDGE SX 7497 7256  
PERRYMAN’S BRIDGE SX 7805 7738  
PIALL BRIDGE SX 5961 6043 County Bridge
PIZWELL BRIDGE SX 6700 7763 Originally a clapper.
POLFORD BRIDGE SX 7611 9217  
PONSWORTHY BRIDGE SX 7011 7389 County Bridge
PORTLAND LANE BRIDGE SX 5593 6760  
POSTBRIDGE BRIDGE SX 6482 7891  
PRINCE EDWARD’S BRIDGE SX 6079 7501 Modern bridge at Two Bridges.
PRINCE HALL BRIDGE SX 6260 7386  
QUICK BRIDGE SX 5913 6078  
RAKES BRIDGE SX ???? ????  
REDWATER BRIDGE SX 6820 8099  
ROMAN BRIDGE SX 5190 8448  
ROWTER BRIDGE SX 626? 800? A wooden bridge over the Archerton Brook, now gone.
RUDDYCLEAVE BRIDGE SX 7348 7462  
RUSHFORD BRIDGE SX 7050 8820  
RUSHLADE BRIDGE SX 7540 7265  
SADDLE BRIDGE SX 6644 7191 Supposed place where Prince Albert killed his first trout.
SANDEMAN BRIDGE SX 6572 8366  
SANDY PARK BRIDGE SX 7130 8931 AKA Dogamarsh Bridge.
SCOTLEY BRIDGE SX 7772 9007  
SHAUGH BRIDGE SX 5327 6368  
SHEEPSTOR BRIDGE SX 5993 6760 Now submerged under BurraTor Reservoir
SHERBERTON BRIDGE SX 6468 7313  
SHIPLEY BRIDGE SX 7782 7397 County Bridge
SIGFORD BRIDGE SX 7782 7397  
SKAIGH BRIDGE SX 6312 9380  
SKIT BRIDGE SX 5206 8444  
SOWTON COTT BRIDGE SX 8225 8842  
SPARA BRIDGE SX 8435 8409  
STAT’S BRIDGE SX 6672 8052  
STENTEFORD BRIDGE SX 6543 9380  
STEPS BRIDGE SX 8046 8830 County Bridge
STICKLEPATH BRIDGE SX 5040 7035 AKA Bedford Bridge or Magpie Bridge
STICKLEPATH BRIDGE SX 6434 9401  
STOUTS BRIDGE SX 7200 7768  
STOWFORD BRIDGE SX 6410 5679  
SUMMERSWOOD BRIDGE SX 6930 6036  
TEIGNWORTHY BRIDGE SX ???? ????  
THREE BRIDGES SX 564     726  
TILLY BRIDGE SX 5125 6999  
TIMBER BRIDGE SX 5742 7960  
TIMBER BRIDGE SX 6536 6699  
TIM’S BRIDGE SX 6587 8294 A modern foresters bridge.
TINKER’S BRIDGE SX 6390 6292 No crossing place now evident.
TOLCH BRIDGE SX 5790 6185 AKA Tolchmoor Bridge
TOLCHMOOR BRIDGE SX 5790 6185 AKA Tolch Bridge. 218/210
TRENA BRIDGE SX 5950 7420  
TWO BRIDGES SX 608     750 Literally, one is an old turnpike bridge and the other a County Bridge
VENTON BRIDGE SX 7199 7661  
VICARAGE HILL BRIDGE SX 6140 6036  
WAPSWORTHY BRIDGE SX 5372 8031  
WARD BRIDGE SX 5420 7201 Original swept away in 1890.
WARM BRIDGE SX 7250 6472 AKA Warn Bridge.
WARN BRIDGE SX 7250 6472 AKA Warm Bridge.
WARREN BRIDGE SX 7221 7221  
WATERLEAT BRIDGE SX 7530 7197  
WEEK BRIDGE SX 822? 884? AKA New Bridge.
WEIR BRIDGE SX 4927 7543  
WESTABROOK BRIDGE SX 7643 7483  
WHETCOMBE BRIDGE SX 8450 8160  
WHITE BRIDGE SX 6003 9192  
WILFORD BRIDGE SX 7985 7970 AKA Woolford Bridge.
WISDOME BRIDGE SX 6143 6087 County Bridge
WONSON MILL BRIDGE SX 6781 8900  
WOOLFORD BRIDGE SX 7985 7970 AKA Wilford Bridge.
WORMHILL BRIDGE SX 7216 8488  
WORTHA MILL BRIDGE SX 4847 8023  
WRAY BRIDGE SX 771? 841?  
WRAY NEW BRIDGE SX 771? 841?  
YARDWORTHY BRIDGE SX ???    ???  
YEO BRIDGE SX 6791 8651  
ZEAL BRIDGE SX 6791 6260  
ZEMSON BRIDGE SX 7127 6270  

Clams and Clappers

Place OS Grid Ref Description Comments
BAGGA TOR CLAPPER SX 5450 8099 Clapper Bridge  
BEARDOWN CLAPPER SX 6025 7534 Clapper Bridge Twice swept away in floods.
BELLEVER CLAPPER SX 6583 7732 Clapper Bridge  
BLACKA BROOK BRIDGE SX 57?? 75?? Clapper Bridge Demolished by flood in 1873, later restored.
CLAM BRIDGE SX 7672 8109 Clam Bridge 321/ Bridges on Teign
COMBESHEAD CLAPPER SX 5857 6848 Clapper Bridge  
CRAZYWELL CLAPPER SX 5834 7057 Clapper Bridge A cart track crossing
DARTMEET CLAPPER SX 6719 7319 Clapper Bridge  
DEAN BURN CLAPPER SX 6982 6653 Clapper Bridge  
DEANCOMBE CLAPPER SX 5786 6868 Clapper Bridge  
DITSWORTHY BUNGALOW CLAPPER SX 580     673 Clapper Bridge  
DOE TOR CLAM SX 53?? 84?? Clapper Bridge  
DRY BRIDGE SX 7400 7450 Clapper Bridge  
FAIRY CLAM SX 6416 7250 Clam Bridge AKA Swincombe Clam.
FERNWORTHY CLAPPER SX 662? 839? Clapper Bridge Now submerged.
FORDER BRIDGE SX 6999 7380 Clapper Bridge Over the ford in Pondsworthy.
FOXWORTHY CLAPPER SX 7575 8206 Clapper Bridge  
HEADLAND BRIDGE SX 6929 8114 Clapper Bridge  
HIGH DOWN CLAM SX 5319 8570 Clam Bridge  
HOLWELL BRIDGE SX 7393 7796 Clapper Bridge No longer in existence.
HORNDON DOWN CLAPPER SX 519     819 Clapper Bridge  
JURSTON CLAPPER SX 6971 8434 Clapper Bridge  
KNACK MINE BRIDGE SX 6145 8858 Clapper Bridge No longer in existence.
LANGAFORD CLAPPER SX 702? 849? Clapper Bridge  
LANGDON BRIDGE SX 7425 8100 Clapper Bridge  
LETHER TOR CLAPPER SX 5690 6996 Clapper Bridge Two openings.
LITTLE WONDER BRIDGE SX 5482 7419 Clapper Bridge AKA Long Ash Clapper Bridge
LONG ASH CLAPPER SX 5482 7419 Clapper Bridge AKA Little Wonder Bridge
LOWER MERRIPIT CLAPPER SX 6592 7920 Clapper Bridge  
LUSTLEIGH CLAM SX 7670 8110 Clam Bridge  
LYDDA BRIDGE SX 5490 8819 Clapper Bridge Carried the peat railway over the river Lyd
MANGA CLAPPER SX 6402 8468 Clapper Bridge AKA Starkey Memorial Clapper
MARY TAVY CLAM SX 5103 7845 Clam Bridge Recently restored,
METHERAL CLAPPER SX 6751 8410 Clapper Bridge Remains now built into the enclosure wall.
NEW BRIDGE SX 5961 9031 Clapper Bridge  
PITT PARKS CLAPPER SX 7210 7779 Clapper Bridge  
POSTBRIDGE CLAPPER SX 6480 7892 Clapper Bridge  
REX BRIDGE SX 6845 8008 Clapper Bridge AKA Vitifer Clapper
RINGLESHUTTS BRIDGE SX 67?? 70?? Clapper Bridge Washed away.
RUNNAGE CLAPPER SX 6684 7890 Clapper Bridge  
SHERBERTON CLAM SX 6476 7371 Clam Bridge  
SWINCOMBE CLAM SX 6416 7250 Clam Bridge AKA  Fairy Clam.
TEIGN-E-VER CLAPPER SX 6546 8706 Clapper Bridge  
TEIGNHEAD CLAPPER SX 6392 8448 Clapper Bridge  
VITIFER CLAPPER  SX 6845 8008 Clapper Bridge AKA Rex’s Clapper
WALLABROOK BRIDGE SX 6535 8711 Clapper Bridge  
WELLA BROOK CLAPPER SX 6671 6705 Clapper Bridge  
WILLSWORTHY BRIDGE SX 5339 8167 Clapper Bridge  
WORKMAN’S CLAPPER SX 6834 7068 Clapper Bridge Washed away in 1965.

Bridges

Brown, M. 1995. The Gazetteer of Dartmoor Names. Liverton: Forest Publishing.

 

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