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The Bridge

A Grade II Listed Building in Louth, Lincolnshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.3678 / 53°22'4"N

Longitude: -0.0087 / 0°0'31"W

OS Eastings: 532589

OS Northings: 387506

OS Grid: TF325875

Mapcode National: GBR XYCH.XG

Mapcode Global: WHHJS.VM01

Entry Name: The Bridge

Listing Date: 18 February 1974

Last Amended: 5 December 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1359889

English Heritage Legacy ID: 194897

Location: Louth, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, LN11

County: Lincolnshire

District: East Lindsey

Civil Parish: Louth

Built-Up Area: Louth

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Louth

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

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Summary

An C18 masonry bridge carrying the approach road to the centre of Louth from the north over the River Ludd.

Description

Road bridge spanning the River Lud, erected in mid-C18, with C19 and C20 repairs and alterations.

MATERIALS: the bridge is constructed of ashlar sandstone, with some replacement balusters fashioned in concrete, and some brick underpinning below the parapets.

PLAN: a two-arch structure with masonry cutwaters on the upstream side, grooved to receive stop planks to divert water into the mill race of the adjacent water mill, via the northernmost arch.
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EXTERIOR: The bridge displays Palladian-style architectural detailing and proportions, the splayed abutments at either end with curved ashlar parapet walls bearing panel decoration to the inner faces. At each end of the sections of parapet walling are square-sectioned ashlar piers. The central part of both bridge parapets is divided into two sections of eight moulded balusters by a central rectangular panelled pier. The parapets are capped by moulded ashlar saddleback copings. The outer faces of the bridge support C20 metal service pipe work which is not of special interest

SETTING: the bridge forms an important element of the setting of the adjacent former water mill (q.v.), with which it was formerly functionally associated and with which it has group value.

History

The town of Louth in Lincolnshire, often referred to as the ‘Capital of the Wolds’ has Saxon origins, and at the time of the Domesday survey was one of Lincolnshire’s 7 market towns, with a population of 600. Its medieval core is still discernable in the town’s street pattern, and was bounded by the River Lud, the streets of Gospelgate and Kidgate to the south and Church Street to the east. Street names including the suffix ‘gate’ abound in the medieval core, which is signed from a great distance in every direction by the spire of the St James Church, completed in 1505, the tallest such spire of any parish church in England. Louth’s medieval prosperity was derived from exporting wool and grain, and its magnificent parish church is testimony to the wealth generated by agriculture in the region, and by Louth’s relative proximity to the east coast.
The town’s population was reduced by three-quarters by outbreaks of plague in the 1630s, and by the early C18 economic prosperity had understandably waned considerably. However, the opening of the Louth-Tetney canal in 1770 heralded a new era of prosperity, and the growth of industries related not only to the region’s agriculture such as malting and grain processing, but also activities such as tanning, boatbuilding and warehousing. Much of this development took place around the canal terminus at Riverhead, and the growth of the town eastwards, along Eastgate James Street and Walkergate.

In 1848, the East Lincolnshire Railway came to Louth, extending trade and communication links beyond those of the canal, and further enhancing the town’s economic strength. An expanding population stimulated the development of terraced housing and villas, churches, chapels, schools and a range of public buildings all graphically captured in the remarkable ‘Louth Panorama’ a two section painting by a local man, William Brown. The Panorama presents a view of the town from high in the spire of St James Church. It portrays Louth at the height of its development and prosperity, shortly after the arrival of the railway, set in its surrounding rural landscape, with the east coast seascape in the background. The structure of the town has changed remarkably little since the Panorama was created, and Louth has mercifully escaped the large-scale post-war redevelopment experienced by many communities in England. Louth remains a thriving historic market town with a high proportion of well-preserved C19 buildings.

The bridge on Bridge Street is the principal crossing point of the River Ludd in the historic centre of Louth, carrying the main north-south routeway into the town through the junction of Westgate and Eastgate, past St. James Church and southwards via Upgate. The crossing point is therefore an ancient one in all probability, but the present bridge is thought to date to the C18. It is clearly shown in Brown's mid-C19, Panorama, complete with cutwaters. The bridge suffered flood damage in 1920, and appears to have undergone further alteration by the attachment of various service pipes to its flanks. The bridge was first listed in 1974, and is attached on its eastern side to the C18, former water mill which stands next to the bridge’s north abutment, beyond which the watercourse divides into a head race for the mill to the north and the main river channel to the south.

Reasons for Listing

The Bridge, Bridge Street, Louth, erected in the C18, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: although altered in the C20, the bridge remains a significant example of C18 bridge construction in a classical style;
* Group Value: the bridge forms an important element of the setting of the former water-powered mill (Grade ll) located on its eastern flank, with which it has group value, and it incorporates features which helped regulate the flow of water to the mill wheel.

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