Record Details

NHER Number:11913
Type of record:Building
Name:St Olave's Bridge


A road bridge over the River Waveney. It was built in 1847, but replaced an earlier bridge of 1509, and an even earlier ferry site. The 1847 bridge is a very early example of bowstring girder design, with ornamental metal railings, and is an important example of cast iron construction. The decking of the bridge was replaced with steel in 1920, and a pedestrian walkway added in 1960.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TM 4569 9942
Map Sheet:TM49NE

Full description

On site of ancient ferry, first stone bridge made in about 1509.
Repaired 1670 and 1758, partly rebuilt 1768, totally rebuilt 1847.
The present bridge is the latter, with new decking inserted 1920.
Designed by George Edwards, it is a very early bowstring girder with ornamental metal railing parapets, and an important example of cast iron construction.
Information from (S1), which gives full details and photographs of paintings of previous bridges; and from Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society records.

However a board in Great Yarmouth Tolhouse refers to a rebuilding in 1823 not mentioned by (S1); possibly only minor repairs.

(S1) refers to stone blocks found in piers of bridge demolished 1847 'marked with signs of the zodiac' which he believed to come from the priory.
They were placed 'in the garden of a villa not far distant'.
A plain stone block in his day formed a mounting block at Haddiscoe smithy.
Informant (borough council) reported as late as 1980 that owner of the village shop found large stone voussoirs in river beneath bridge.
E. Rose (NAU), 17 August 1984.

November 1994.
Bridge visited during decking repairs. One of blocks of stone mentioned in last paragraph seen on north bank outside shop.
This one is not a voussoir but part of an abutment, and does not appear to be medieval; probably 18th century. Present bridge has arched girders from which screwed rods descend to fastenings on the ends of the girders supporting the deck; these are also kept in place by longitudinal clamps and rods anchored in the yellow brick bastion like abutments through spaces in the feet of the arched girders, showing that the arrangement is original though the rods probably were replaced in 1920. Ornate scrolls sit on the girders inside these rods and support latticework parapets.
E. Rose (NAU), 14 November 1994.

(S2) states bridge has a 24.4m (80 foot) span; bowstring girders have 7.3m (24 foot) centres 4.4m (15 foot) above deck. Main girders are lattice assemblies of four cast iron T section ribs with cast diaphrams. Central friction joint.
The 1920s deck was replaced in steel 1959.
E. Rose (NLA), 14 January 1997.

Press cuttings (S3) in file. Architect's 1997 plans for restoration (S4) and minutes of progress meeting (S5) in file.

February 2001.
The stone block is still at Haddiscoe Smithy (NHER 35787); it is massive, polygonal with pointed base and again is more probably 18th century than medieval.
E. Rose (NLA), 23 February 2001.

Monument Types

  • BRIDGE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CABLE STAYED BRIDGE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BRIDGE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TM 49 NE 5.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Monograph: Smith-Wynne. 1914. St. Olave's Priory and Bridge.
<S2>Monograph: Labrun, E.A.. 1994. Civil Engineering Heritage, East and Central England.. pp 129-30.
<S3>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1991-1998. [Articles on work undertaken on the St Olave's Bridge].
<S4>Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
<S5>Unpublished Document: Mortimer, A.. 1996. W. S. Atkins, minutes of progress meeting.. 9 July.

Related records - none

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