Jaggermen’s Bridges on Packhorse Trails
This beautifully produced book is profusely illustrated with over 170 black and white photographs, is A4 size format, hard back and compliments Sledgehammer’s previous volumes titled FRED DIBNAH’S CHIMNEY DROPS and HISTORIC STEAM BOILER EXPLOSIONS.
On a Jack Frost freezing cold Sunday morning in December 2003, whilst out rambling with my husband Alan along the cinder towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in the Weavers’ Triangle, Burnley, Lancashire, taking in the sad, forlorn vistas of the old tumbled-down, grey-stone cotton mills with their countless sightless windows, ruinous stubby chimneys, and with us both firing off shot upon shot with our cameras of the surrounding derelict, but nonetheless, fascinating industrial ruination, I found myself becoming more and more fascinated with Alan’s regular highly descriptive accounts regarding the Lancashire cotton industry, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and also the ancillary or, in Alan’s words, the ‘piggy-back’ industries that these now crumbling mill buildings once proudly served.
It was this highly atmospherical journey through these canyons of once prestigious Lancashire cotton mills that became the spring-board to one of the most fascinating of past-times I have ever enjoyed. Since that period I have come to thoroughly enjoy our regular forays all over Northern England researching and photographing Britain’s Industrial Heritage, which has, at an alarming rate over the last 20 years, virtually disappeared.
During the Christmas holiday of 2004, Alan enthusiastically introduced me to two local sites in East Lancashire where there were what Alan described as being ‘packhorse bridges’. My very first sighting of a packhorse bridge was Higherford Old Bridge at Barrowford which I enjoyed immensely. Alan informed me that in certain parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire packhorse bridges were sometimes known as ‘Jaggermen’s bridges’, the name being derived from a breed of packhorses, the ‘Jaeger’ imported from Germany. We then explored the once abandoned eighteenth century weavers’ hamlet of Wycoller, near Colne which boasts a splendid, picturesque, medieval twin-arched stone packhorse bridge. With rising excitement of seeing this bridge, Alan then pointed out another equally fascinating bridge situated a little further upstream. This bridge built of huge slabs of local sandstone is known as a clapper bridge. On walking further upstream and past the beautifully and authentically restored huge Tithe barn set in delightful Pennine surroundings, Alan then showed me the third of Wycoller’s interesting old bridges. This bridge consists of one massively hewn block of Millstone Grit, which is mounted on huge boulders at either end, and spans the moorland-draining beck in one gigantic leap.
During the four mile journey back to Cowling I found myself becoming so fascinated with these fabulous little bridges that I made the immediate decision to seek out, to research and to photograph as many other of the old packhorse bridges that Alan said were scattered all over the mountainous areas of Northern England: the Pennines, the North Yorkshire Moors, the Lake District and County Durham.
With boundless fascination for my subject I then delved more deeply into researching the specific localities of surviving northern packhorse bridges. I also realised that it would indeed be very worthwhile to visit these bridges, to individually record and photograph these historic, enigmatic, and often beautiful little structures.
So in the Spring of 2005, Alan and I commenced with, what some of my friends have described as – ‘a pilgrimage’ – to visit every surviving packhorse bridge in the North of England. A truly massive yet profoundly interesting endeavour!
And so it came about during the late spring and early summer of 2005 as a consequence of me seeking out quite a goodly number of locally situated packhorse bridges such as the Donkey Bridge at Oxenhope, Beckfoot Bridge at Bingley and Bronte Bridge at Haworth, the concept of me actually writing a book on packhorse bridges: a sort of illustrated guide and gazetteer of these amazing, historical structures was then put into practice. Within the following few weeks the idea of me writing the packhorse bridge book became a sort of burning ambition, and so I found myself spending most of my free time in gleaning information from books, libraries, industrial museums and of course the internet. Alan with his deep knowledge of industrial history and his intimate knowledge of the Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and other upland areas of Northern England where packhorse bridges were located, the majority being in wild but fantastically beautiful countryside, was of great assistance to me.
During the second half of 2004 I had two articles published in Yorkshire Ridings Magazine and Lancashire Magazine which encouraged me to commence writing this book.
Jaggermen’s Bridges On Packhorse Trails chronicles my adventures in searching out and finding packhorse bridges all over Northern England. I do not claim to be an expert on packhorse bridges and any mistakes found herein will be my own, as this is my first attempt at book writing!
A Short History Of The Jaggermen’s Bridges Of Northern England
Ever since ancient times man has been required to traverse the bleak mountainous regions of the North of England to barter or sell his wares, his animals; cattle, oxen, sheep and goats. Man has also moved his cattle on to better pastures, for the well-being of himself and his family depended on the milk, meat, hides and bones. Therefore, to enable him to live more profitably, man constructed bridges across the numerous fast flowing mountain streams and becks. Many of the pathways over the mountains and hills of Northern England had been trod by ancient Britons and also Roman soldiers.
All over the North of England where the Jaggermen’s trails came down from the tops of the hills to the many rivers and becks, these water courses would be crossed by old wooden bridges or by ancient fords. However, where the banks were too steep, then a steeply humped, single-arched bridge would be constructed. Many of these specifically designed bridges were built particularly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the accentuated curvature of the arches allowing high levels of flood water to flow beneath. The majority of these packhorse bridges when first built either had no parapets or had extremely low ones to allow the heavily ladened Jaggermen’s packhorse trains to pass over without hindrance.
The majority of the surviving packhorse bridges of Northern England are to be found in the wilds of Cumbria, North Yorkshire, particularly in the Dales, and the South Pennine regions of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire.
|Beggars Bridge – Glaisdale||Duck Bridge|
|Hunter’s Sty Bridge||Romanby Bridge|
|Stokesley Packhorse Bridge||World’s End Bridge|
|Nidderdale Packhorse Trains||Birstwith New Bridge|
|Hampsthwaite Bridge||Cockhill Beck Packhorse Bridge|
|Thornthwaite Bridge||Wath Bridge|
|Hubberholme Bridge, Langstrothdale||Yockenthwaite Bridge|
|Crook Gill Bridge, Hubberholme||Cray Bridge, Nr. Buckden|
|Linton Packhorse Bridge||Little Emily’s Bridge, Linton|
|Malham Bridges||Hanlith Packhorse Bridge|
|Clapham Bridge||Stainforth Bridge|
|Thorns Gill Bridge, Gearstones||Ling Gill Bridge|
|West Burton Bridge||Ivelet Bridge|
|Raven Seat Bridge||Addingham Packhorse Bridges|
|Dob Park Packhorse Bridge||Ilkley Old Bridge|
|Donkey Bridge, Oxenhope||Long Packhorse Bridge|
|Lumbfoot Packhorse Bridge||Foster Mill Bridge, Hebden Bridge|
|Lumb Bridge, Crimsworth Dene||Hebble Hole Bridge, Colden Clough|
|Jumble Hole Clough Clam Bridge||Lower Strines Packhorse Bridge, Colden Water|
|Hippins Clough Clam Bridge||Close Gate Packhorse Bridge|
|Marsden Town Bridge ‘Mellor Bridge’||Holme Ends Packhorse Bridge, Alcomden Walshaw Dene|
|Hudson Packhorse Bridge||Mount Cross|
|Beckfoot Packhorse Bridge, Bingley||Oxygrains Packhorse Bridge|
|Newsholme Dene Cantilever Bridge||Wycoller Packhorse, Clam and Clapper Bridge, Wycoller|
|Hodder Packhorse Bridge or Cromwell’s Bridge||Higherford Old Packhorse Bridge|
|Catlow Packhorse Bottoms||Cadshaw Packhorse Bridge|
|Bleasdale Packhorse Bridge, Oakenclough||Monks Packhorse Bridge|
|Saddle Bridge or Fairy Packhorse Bridge||Longholme Packhorse Bridge, Rawtenstall|
|Croston Town Packhorse Bridge||Prestolee Packhorse Bridge, Prestolee|
|Lad Hill Packhorse Bridge, Greenfield||Barbon Packhorse Bridge|
|Cowgill Packhorse Bridge||Frank’s Packhorse Bridge|
|Stock High Packhorse Bridge or Old Mill Bridge||High Sweden Packhorse Bridge|
- Hardcover: 200 pages
- Publisher: Sledgehammer Engineering Press Limited (30 April 2010)
- ISBN-10: 0953272532
- ISBN-13: 978-0953272532
- Package Dimensions: 29.8 x 21.6 x 1.6 cm