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Blaina Iron Works craftsmanship still on display—and in use—in historic Exeter

Brian Sprague took and submitted this photo of a bridge in Exeter, manufactured by the Russell & Browns Blaina Iron Works in 1834. Sprague reports that the bridge "is substantial and still well used." He writes: "The date of the bridge is evident in the pictures. The bridge was constructed to improve the northern entrance into the city, it being an important access point from the Northern Devon towns. Of course, transport was horse pulled wagons, etc., at this time. The problem was a steep descent from the north, followed by an equally steep ascent into the city, the bridge being designed to bridge the gap between the two high points. The general view picture (first one below), taken from where the entrance to the old city would have been, shows the extent of the bridge. The buildings close by the right hand side of the bridge are to the side of the old road which was used prior to the bridge, some of which were there before the bridge. When the bridge was constructed, a foot bridge was made from the bridge to an old inn which was on the old road, entering the inn on one of the upper floors! I understand from a local history book that the cost of the bridge was some £9000. In the later part of the 1800's, an alternative road route from the north was engineered into the city, avoiding another steep ascent on the road before the bridge was reached.

"The bridge is still in use, although subject to weight restrictions. It has recently been renovated and repainted in the manner it was when built.

"I have a particular regard for this bridge. My family migrated into Exeter in 1816 and lived on the old road below the bridge prior to and during the period that it was built."

Brian Sprague photos

More information on Exeter and Devon are available here.

Blaina Institute painting
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