Cast-iron pedestrian bridge constructed in 1811 by the Butterley Works
Reason for Listing
Cowbridge Footbridge, a cast-iron bridge constructed in 1811, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Date: it is an early C19 cast-iron footbridge that has survived in its original form
* Architectural interest: it was constructed by the Butterley Works, a nationally important ironworks established in Ripley, Derbyshire, in 1790
* Historic interest: the footbridge is one of a pair (the other is Hospital Footbridge) built to give pedestrian access across the Maud Foster drain which provided effective fen drainage and an inland waterway
Despite some fluctuation in its fortunes Boston remained a prosperous port and market town from the middle ages into the C19, its medieval wealth based on access to North Sea trade, but increasingly, and particularly in the late C18 and early C19, on its rich agricultural hinterland. Productivity and distribution of goods were both dependant on effective fen drainage and good inland waterways, and by the late C18 the Maud Foster drain provided both functions. The first drain was cut from Cowbridge, north-east of Boston, to the Haven in the south in 1568. The drain was widened and improved in the mid-C17 and again a hundred years later. In 1807 the engineer John Rennie was commissioned to build the Maud Foster Sluice at the point where the drain discharges into the Haven, part of a further fenland reclamation scheme. The two cast-iron footbridges, Cowbridge and Hospital Bridge, were constructed in 1811 by the Butterley Company, Ripley, Derbyshire. The ironworks at Butterley had been founded by Francis Beresford and Benjamin Outram in 1790 and was renamed the Butterley Works in 1807. By the 1830s it was believed to be the largest coal owner and the second largest iron producer in the East Midlands, and by 1863 it was rolling the largest masses of iron of any foundry in the country. The Butterley Company achieved a national reputation for the manufacture of large scale iron castings and components for the expanding railway network and civil engineering projects, notably providing the original steel roof spans for Barlow’s engine shed at St Pancras.
MATERIALS: cast iron and gritstone.
EXTERIOR: ramped, narrow, single span bridge with plain vertical railings. In the middle of both sides of the supporting girder is stamped CAST AT BUTTERLEY 1811. The balustrade continues for a short distance along either bank. At each end of the span is a pair of ashlared gritstone piers with a pyramidal top and moulded panel to three faces; another pair terminate the balustrades.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.