Foundry Bridge

Images and the history of Foundry Bridge, Norwich.

Foundry Bridge – image by @MyriadLifePhotoArt

My River Wensum series starts with a photo tour of bridges. I began with Carrow Bridge as it is the nearest to my apartment. Traveling along the Wensum up towards the city, the next bridge featured in this series is the Novi Sad Friendship Bridge, followed by the Lady Julian Bridge and from there we arrive next at Foundry Bridge just by Norwich Train Station.

Norwich Station – image by @MyriadLifePhotoArt
View of the Foundry Bridge from the Wensum – image by @MyriadLifePhotoArt

While I often use Lady Julian Bridge to cut up to King Street for a shorter route into the city, what I really like to do, when I have time, is to walk along the Wensum up to Foundry Bridge and cross over Prince of Wales Road to continue the river walk. I also use Foundry Bridge to cross the river to get to the post office (I am sure you are fascinated to know this). It just goes to show how important these bridges are to daily life in Norwich. I’m very glad I don’t have to swim across the river.

Foundry Bridge at night – image by @MyriadLifePhotoArt

The Foundry Bridge (a grade II listed building) is a single-span iron bridge with its own distinctive decorative design. Here are some interesting details about the Foundry Bridge from George Plunkett

‘The first to occupy this site was a toll bridge built of wood in 1811 by the contractors, Mendham of Holt. In 1844, with the coming of the railway, it was replaced by one made of iron by Bradley and Co. of Wakefield, and designed by C.D. Atkinson. It cost £800. It was then freed from toll. The present structure was built when Thorpe Station was enlarged; the contractors were R.Tidman and Co of Rosary Rd, Norwich. It cost £12,032. opened on January 17th, 1888.’

It is fascinating to know the cost of the construction of the Foundry Bridge. I can only imagine what a bridge of similar construction would cost today. It certainly wouldn’t be £12,000!

The thing I love about bridges is how unique each one is. Whether it be a footbridge or built for vehicular access, a swing, opening or fixed bridge, they all have their own special design, quirks, and individuality. This really appeals to me. Of course, every bridge provides an interesting viewpoint too, ideal for a photographer. 

Looking back towards Lady Julian Bridge with the Nelson Hotel on the right, Norwich Station on the left, and, of course, the Canoe Man. 

View from Foundry Bridge – Hotel Nelson on right – image by @MyriadLifePhotoArt

Looking towards the city, Norwich Yacht Station is on the right hand side and the Compleat Angler pub on the left. Willow trees line the river down towards Pulls Ferry and the next bridge in this series Bishopsgate Bridge. 

From Foundry Bridge looking towards Bishop Gate Bridge – image by @MyriadLifePhotoArt
Foundry Bridge from on the water – image by @MyriadLifePhotoArt

While researching the Foundry Bridge, I learned the tragic story of what happened nearby on April 4th, 1817 (Good Friday) to the Norwich Steam Packet when the engine exploded. You can read about it here on the NorfolkTalesMyths.com website.

This terrible story brought to mind a ghostly incident that happened in the Hotel Nelson garden a year ago. We often wander the city streets on summer nights, taking photographs and enjoying the lights. One night, we went down the steps from Foundry Bridge and walked alongside the Nelson Hotel into the garden. I walked a little ahead of my boyfriend while he stopped to read a sign, and suddenly, out of nowhere, a bottle flew through the air and landed by my foot. I spun around expecting to see the person who had thrown it, but there wasn’t a soul to be seen. There were no bushes to hide in.

With no wind and the bottle flying at knee height before it landed, we came to the conclusion it had been thrown by a ghost, or now I wonder, perhaps if it was eerily propelled by the historic explosion…

Whether you believe in ghostly happenings or not, it is the only explanation I have.

Look out for my next blog about Bridges o’er the Wensum – or get updated by hitting the subscribe button below.

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Bridges O’er The Wensum – Carrow Bridge

As part of my River Wensum photographic record, I am going to post about each of the bridges along the Wensum, starting here with Carrow Bridge.

Carrow Bridge is a lifting bridge. Unfortunately, I have never been lucky enough to see it lift up. I like to peer into the little control hut and imagine it in operation. Despite my best attempts to find a video of it opening, so far, I haven’t been successful. All I can find is a video of the test opening in 2018 to allow TS Lord Nelson aka HMS Vale pass through, which isn’t particularly interesting!

The current Carrow Bridge was constructed in 1923 to replace the old bridge to the South. More recently, there have been plans by the council to weld the bridge shut. Read a press release from the Norwich Society about this here

Reginald Dann, lived in Carrow Bridge House (the former bridge master’s house) for more than 50 years until it was sold at auction. Thankfully, a plan by the county council to demolish it was defeated by the city council.

You can see images of the bridge open here in an EDP article, when the TS Lord Nelson passed through in 2004. There is also a nice image in the article of the The ship “Paullgate” of Hull carrying cargo under Carrow bridge at the port of Norwich. Dated 20 May 1966. The TS Lord Nelson was eventually decommissioned and now rests in Bristol.

I walk across the bridge at least once every day, and I also cross it every night. I enjoy looking out over both sides of Carrow bridge, but my favourite view is looking back up the river past the Devil’s Tower towards old Paper Mill Yard.

You can read more about the history of the Devil’s Tower here – it is a virtually unique structure in England, built in the early 14th century. Directly opposite is the Windlass Tower.

I will write more about the Wensum Boom Towers in future posts.

A view further up from Carrow Bridge.

Up river towards the old Colman’s factory site.
The Broads Authority River Ranger making checks near Carrow Bridge

Carrow Bridge by night.

I frequently pass under the bridge, on the way into the city. It is a favourite spot for pigeons to court in the spring. There is also the occasional dove.

Sometimes swans sit in the wooden under-structure compartments as if they were stables. I am sure there is a technical name for the structure, but I have no idea what it is.

Carrow Bridge by night.

Eric and Erica, the Egyptian geese, like to perch on the wooden sidings that are there to guide boats through, but usually they are keeping guard on the river bank. Occasionally, a heron perches near the bridge too.

On summer nights, if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of bats performing aerobatics around the bridge.

Eric and Erica keeping watch near Carrow Bridge

Street Art under Carrow Bridge

Every now and then, new street art appears under the bridge. These images have disappeared now, which is a shame because I really liked them. They are preferable to the meaningless tagging that crops up everywhere (not meaningless to gangs, I guess, but still an eyesore). 

To see old pictures of Carrow Bridge and the rest of the city, you may enjoy visiting the Francis Frith Collection.

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Sources used for this blog post: EDP24, The Norwich Society, the Francis Frith Collection, Norwich.Gov.uk, WivenhoeHistory.org.uk

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A photographic record of the River Wensum

My next photo blog post will be about Carrow Bridge. It is coming very soon, so look out for it!

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