A postcard from home, taken during an evening stroll by the nearby river Trent. In fact, we crossed the Trent via the Ferry Bridge, a familiar landmark to all Burtonians. The bridge leads to a walkway, Stapenhill Viaduct, which links Burton town centre to the suburb of Stapenhill, around half a mile on the other side of the river.
Before the bridge was built, the only way across the river at that point was by a small ferry. The bridge was gifted to the town in 1889 by the brewer, Michael Arthur Bass.
Around that time the population of Burton was growing rapidly, mainly due to the expansion of the brewing industry. The Ferry Bridge must have been welcomed and appreciated by the large number of brewery workers who lived on one side of the river but worked on the other side. They could finally cross the river free of toll. (Not such good news for the ferryman).
The bridge is described as a semi-suspension bridge. It was the first of its kind in Europe to be built to this design and possibly the only one remaining. It is made of wrought iron and cast iron, and is Grade II listed. Two or three years ago it was completely refurbished.
It is still used by hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists every day. A real turn-around is that cycling across the bridge was strictly prohibited when the bridge was first build until quite recently. Those who ignored the warnings ran the risk of a fine of forty shillings (£2.00) in the early days, which eventually rose to £10 before the rule was finally abolished. Now, a narrow cycle lane is marked and this is part of National Cycle Route 63.
The viaduct part of the walkway is necessary as it crosses the Trent Washlands, an area which can be very wet and boggy and in fact floods from time to time.
At the Stapenhill side of the river are the Stapenhill Gardens, an area very popular with residents. Locals will tell you this is the largest swan in England!