History of Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge was designed in 1769 by Robert Adam.

It is one of only two bridges in the world with shops on both sides the

other being the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

The construction of Pulteney Bridge took place in 1770 replacing the river crossing known as the Boat stall ferry. The necessary land for the bridge was negotiated with the City Corporation, in exchange for the valuable water rights of the springs on Claverton Down in the manor of Bathwick. The overall development involved the demolition of a church as well as the city gaol at the east gate of the city to be replaced by what is now Bridge Street and the construction of Argyle Street, on the opposite side of the river. The bridge is unique in that it has a row of shops on each side of its thoroughfare

Designed by the Adam Brothers with the three span arches, the construction took several years to complete at a cost of in excess of ten thousand pounds, however it did pave the way for the development of Sir William Pulteney’s new town of Bathwick and the construction of Great Pulteney Street.

The advent of indoor sanitation saw the fine facade of the Bridge becoming quickly adorned with all kinds of unsightly external additions during the nineteenth century, also the symmetry of the Bridge on the downstream side was broken by the demolition of the first house to accommodate the newly formed Grand Parade.

In the decade of the nineteen sixties the underside soffits of all three arches were in a sad state of disrepair and a three year programme of restoration was then undertaken hampered at times by very high floods. The downstream façade was then partially restored to its former glory, which tends to now overshadow the much neglected northern façade.

Pulteney Bridge is proudly a part of the World Heritage Site which is the City of Bath and is well worth a visit.


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