Monochrome Monday

Here is the first of a series of posts on the theme of ‘alliteration days’. I have noticed that on several blogs I follow, fellow bloggers will publish ‘Wordless Wednesday’ or ‘Friday Flowers’ and the like. So with my self-imposed challenge and attempt to beat lockdown lethargy, winter woes, and January jadedness, I’ll start the week with Monochrome Monday.

When walking around Stapenhill Gardens and Woodland Walk by the river Trent I am frequently drawn to this Victorian gothic-style shelter. It is in a quieter and less well known part of the walk and yet still close to the footpath along the side of the river. It may well date back to the 1860s when the woodland walk was first laid out as one of the earliest public parks in Burton on Trent. It has been suggested that it was built from stone from the 12th century medieval bridge which was replaced in 1864.

The Victorians were fond of ‘follies’ but at least this structure has a practical purpose and has provided welcome shelter from the rain to countless walkers over the years. To me it has a slightly eerie atmosphere even in daylight. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a hermit in there one day!

The river Trent at Stapenhill

Our morning walk today was by the Trent, mainly because we were interested to see how much the river level had risen. Fortunately not as much as floods in some parts of the country but enough to cover a few of the footpaths making them impassable in parts.

This meant that one of our regular circuits was not possible but it was still an enjoyable walk, rewarded at the end by the sight of daffodils pushing through the wet ground and the remaining autumn leaves.

A welcome reminder that, in the words of C. S. Lewis, “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

The Ferry Bridge

10postcard back 2 2A 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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!