...one of the world’s most beautiful bridges
One of only 4 bridges in the world still adorned with shops and houses and surely one of the most elegant sights in any city.
In 1767 Frances Pulteney inherited the 600 acre estate of Bathwick on the opposite bank of the river Avon to Bath. At the time it was basically rural but Frances’ husband, a Scottish lawyer named William Johnstone Pulteney, immediately saw the potential and set about designing a village.
In order to connect Bathwick to Bath a crossing had to be made over the Avon to replace the ferry which was, at the time, the only method of passing from one side to the other. Originally thinking of a basic functional bridge, Robert Adam, who had been discussing the estate with Pulteney put forward a more elaborate structure based on types he had seen on travels to Florence and Venice – the Ponte Vecchio and the Ponte di Rialto.
The design came against some criticism as shops and houses had been seen as restrictions on traffic and had, in England at least, been removed from many bridges for this reason. Pulteney however liked the idea, probably due to the economic return of shop rents, and pressed ahead.
By 1773 the bridge was complete and despite many alterations and disasters along the way the bridge was restored to its basic original design in time for the 1951 Festival of Britain. In 1975 the southern facade was further restored to mark the European Architectural Heritage Year.
It is best viewed from the Parade Gardens park by the crescent weir and is one structure that will live long in the memory and even longer in the many photographs you will undoubtedly take of this magnificent grade I listed building.
Other attractions in the area:
Thermae Bath Spa
The Rondo Theatre
Sally Lunns Historic Eating House
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015