Underneath the arches: five of my favourite bridges in Derby

Having been inspired by Mark Pack, Stephen Glenn and Jonathan Calder‘s posts about their five favourite bridges, I’ve also decided to join in with the latest meme that’s sweeping the world of Liberal Democrats who blog(*).

The additional challenge I set myself was to find all five of my bridges within the City of Derby, as that’s home. The photographs were all taken yesterday, so unfortunately the light wasn’t particularly good.

1. The Bridge That Isn’t There

East Street, Derby, 14-02-2015I admit that this is an unusual way to start. It’s a view of East Street and there’s no bridge. But when the buildings on both sides of the street were occupied by the Derby Co-operative Society, there was a walkway between their supermarket on the left hand side to the Central Hall building on the right.

When I was growing up in the late 60s / early 70s I loved this bridge, as crossing it meant that I was about to get my hands on some more Lego. The walkway (albeit closed to the public for many years) certainly survived into the 1990s and possibly later. I’ve found it rather difficult to find photographs of the walkway, and the one I did find from 1988 has been removed from the internet since I wrote this.

2. Exeter Bridge

This bridge crosses the Derwent directly into the heart of the city and was on the main route in until the inner ring road was built in the 1970s. It incorporates four commemorative copper plaques to the Derby luminaries Erasmus Darwin, Herbert Spencer, William Hutton and John Lombe – one on each pillar. This is the view of the bridge from the Riverside Gardens, with the newly restored Council House and re-purposed Magistrate’s Court buildings on the left hand side.

Exeter bridge, Derby, 14-02-2015… and this is the fifth copper plaque, marking its re-opening in 1931.

Exeter bridge plaque, Derby, 14-02-2015

3. The Cathedral Green Footbridge

The newest of my five bridges was opened in 2009 and is in the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage site, next to the Silk Mill. It’s a swing bridge, although I’ve never personally witnessed it being opened. The design is striking and the views it provides of All Saints’ Cathedral and the Silk Mill are excellent.

Cathedral Green footbridge and Silk Mill, Derby, 14-02-2015Catherdral Green footbridge, Derby, 14-02-2015

4. St Mary’s Bridge

Also in the World Heritage area is St Mary’s bridge. The current bridge dates from the 18th century, though there has been one on this site for centuries. The most interesting feature of the bridge is the medieval chapel, restored in 1930 and is one of six surviving bridge chapels in England. There’s also an adjoining 17th century chapel house. It’s desperately sad that the design of the inner ring road now makes it impossible to fully appreciate the chapel and house from the outside.

St Mary's Bridge, Derby, 14-02-2015St. Mary's Bridge Chapel, Derby, 14-02-2015

5. Friar Gate Bridge

Built by Andrew Handyside & Co in the 1870s for the Great Northern Railway, the bridge that dominates this Georgian street became redundant in 1967 after the line closed. It’s main claim to fame is that it appears to have been responsible for inspiring the Flanagan and Allen song “Underneath the Arches”. Unfortunately it seems to be in a poor state of repair at the moment, despite the promise made by Derby’s council in 1970 when it was acquired by them for £1.

Firar Gate Birdge, Derby, 14-02-2015

(*) as distinct from being a blogger who writes mainly about the Liberal Democrats!


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