History of Bridges in Upper Wharfedale

We believe that there have been major bridges crossing the River Wharfe since, at least, medieval times. Bolton Bridge is recorded as being under construction in 1314 and Conniston Bridge is on the route used by Fountains Abbey from Nidderdale, along Mastiles Lane to their large sheep-farm in Malham. It is likely some Wharfedale bridges were of wooden construction, but Bolton Bridge was probably a stone construction similar to the Kildwick Bridge over the River Aire which was also constructed by Bolton Priory.

 

It is the aim of this project to collect as much information on the bridges to enable us to understand the history of the Upper Wharfedale bridges, both major and minor. To do this we will access information from a range of sources. This information will be transcribed and collated into individual bridge histories.

Please get in touch as soon as possible if you are interested in researching a specific bridge.  Participants will get their bridge of choice to research wherever possible , but please bear in mind that we need to spread our efforts and we have a significant amount of information on some bridges from previous research, so we may need to ask people to research specific bridges for us.  We will also need some people to do general research at the archives as we believe that information is contained in books and lists of bridges, so it may be a case of looking for any UW bridges in these and other documents.

Locations

We expect information to be found in Libraries, public and private archives. Where possible, this information will be accessed remotely, either on-line or by requesting copies. In many cases, however, the library or archive will need to be visited, when catalogues indicate information is available.

We expect to access or visit the following locations

o             Skipton Library.

o             Other local libraries (e.g. Keighley)

o             University Libraries where catalogues indicate information is available

o             Public archives (for example Wakefield)

o             Private Archives where access is possible (e.g. Chatsworth)

o             Archive.org also contains digitised original books and documents

We would look to identify any antiquarian sources of information, for example, Whittaker.

Methods

When possible, we will get images or copies of information from the Libraries or Archives. When we visit, we will make copies of relevant documents for later analysis.

Copies of documents will be given to individuals who will transcribe them into a Word Processing format (or spreadsheet format where suitable). The full document will be transcribed, not just the sections that specifically refer to Wharfedale. Documents may be printed or hand-written.

Where historical changes are obvious, such as widening of the bridge, or raising the parapet a detailed photograph would be useful as it maybe possible to correlate this with information in the archives.  Any photographs taken must be in line with the ‘health and safety advice.