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The Bridges of Rotherham

Rotherham is a town built on a river and a borough through which several major rivers flow. I wish I could report that it was a place where you could find charming old bridges or beautifully engineered new ones but sadly it is not. Now I like a good bridge whether it is a two thousand year old span across the Tiber in Rome, a relic of the Industrial Revolution like the Iron Bridge in Shropshire or a brand spanking new bridge with graceful catenaries. The best you can hope for in Rotherham is the old Chantry Bridge but this is obscured from one side by the new bridge and road built in the 1930s.

There are a number of crossing places across the River Rother within the borough including bridges to allow the M1 and Sheffield Parkway but the only one that seems to be named is the road crossing at Canklow Bridge.

Bridges in the centre of Rotherham are Bow Bridge across the River Rother near its confluence with the Don, Corporation Bridge on Main Street and Chantry or Rotherham Bridge. Further out along the Don and the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal are Grafton Bridge also called Don Bridge at St Anns, Aldwarke Bridge, Kilnhurst Bridge and Swinton Bridge.

Aldwarke Bridge also called Wash Lane Bridge

This was rebuilt in 1834 - the original bridge was much older but I have no other information. It is no longer in use and the road now crosses a modern road bridge closer to Aldwarke Lock.

Aldwarke Bridge
Aldwarke Bridge

Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge was built on the site of a ford where the Ricknield Way crossed the River Don near its confluence with the Rother. This is the main route to Sheffield and I have no date for the original Bow Bridge. In 1764 the architect John Platt was employed to rebuild Bow Bridge so there must have been a bridge in existence well before that date.

Bow Bridge
Bow Bridge
© Bob Evens
Bow Bridge before 1924
Bow Bridge before 1924


I think the present Bow Bridge was built in 1924.

Chantry Bridge

Rotherham or Chantry Bridge was built on the site of an old ford, and there may well also have been a narrow packhorse bridge there before it. I am sure that I have read somewhere that this was a toll bridge: the monks levying a charge to cross in return for the upkeep. There seems to be no record of the date the later bridge was built.

Rotherham (Chantry) Bridge and the Chapel of Our Lady
Rotherham (Chantry) Bridge and the Chapel of Our Lady
Rotherham (Chantry) Bridge and the Chapel of Our Lady
Rotherham (Chantry) Bridge and The Chapel of Our Lady 2003

The Chapel of Our Lady was constructed upon the bridge in 1483. The Chapel is an integral part of the structure of the bridge, such that you can't demolish one without the other. As the original Chantry Bridge was only about 15 feet wide it soon became a real bottleneck with the advent of motorised traffic. A new bridge was built right next door to the old one and opened in April 1930 by Herbert Morrison, Minister of Transport. The bridge itself is a listed structure as well as the chapel.

Corporation Bridge

Main Street crosses the River Don via Corporation Bridge. There was a railway bridge hereabouts from 1838 but the road bridge came later. I will try and obtain more positive information.

Crinoline Bridge

Old Crinoline Bridge was a structure which consisted of a baulk of timber about a foot wide with high sloping sides. It was partly destroyed by the floods in 1866. It was decided by 'Authority' to erect a new bridge capable of dealing with vehicular traffic with the Council and the Earl of Effingham sharing the cost. New gas mains were run under the bridge from the gasworks to serve Masbrough. The Bridge disappeared during the building of Centenary Way but the Crinoline Bridge Inn remains over the footbridge behind the bus station, so you've a pretty good idea where it was.

Grafton Bridge also known as Don Bridge

There are two Grafton Bridges. The old one built in 1876 was closed to through traffic about ten tears ago as it was unsafe for heavy vehicles. Although it is a Grade II listed structure the old bridge was removed in 2009 as part of the Rotherham Flood Alleviation Scheme. The coat of arms and a plaque have been set up.

Old Grafton Bridge
now demolished
Old Grafton Bridge

The newer bridge over which the traffic usually flows, and sometimes jams, between Parkgate and Rotherham, has no style worthy of mention.

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