The area served by the Society has three main waterways - the Avon, the Arrow and the Alne. There are many smaller ones, e.g. Cain Brook and Spittle brook, joining the main three. Early man crossed these barriers where they were most shallow, viz. at fords (some still exist on minor roads and, for us, Coughton is a good example). The names of 'Bidford', 'Washford' ,'Wixford' and 'Salford' tell of pre-bridge crossings.
The roman Icknield Street (so named in Bidford on Avon) crossed the Avon by a ford: only a few years ago iron spikes in the river were found -- these supported a wooden causeway over the river bottom which would have been invaluable for military vehicles.
The Middle Ages was a time of bridge building, this being regarded as a religious duty, often sponsored by monastic foundations. The bridge at Bidford is the finest in our area but is wide enough only for one-way traffic. lt is wider than a pack-horse bridge, suggesting that Bidford was an important river crossing. The bridge dates from the early 15th century but has been repaired many times; in the 16th century stone from Alcester's demolished priory was used. There are eight arches, with cut-waters on the upper side. In l644 Charles I broke the bridge to cover his retreat from 'Worcester to Oxford - this was repaired in 1650 by Quarter Sessions, for whom Bidford Bridge was a 'county bridge' under its control.
Spring 1991 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1991