During the nineteenth century three new bridges were built over the river in the central waterfront area, and the old Leeds Bridge was replaced by a new structure. New road, and later railway bridges, were built to the east and west of the town.
Benjamin Gott wanted to improve communications between his mill at Bean Ing with the business communities south of the river, and he played an important part in raising the money to build a new road bridge. In 1818 Gott laid the foundation stone of the bridge which was completed the following year and was originally called the Waterloo Bridge. The design, by John Rennie, incorporated two stone bridges, one over the river, and a second smaller structure over the canal. The whole scheme cost £7,000. The larger bridge over the Aire was described in 1934 by Parsons as 'a beautiful structure, consisting of an elliptical arch of one hundred feet span'. Both bridges are pictured in a print made by Rhodes in 1832, with Gotts factory in the background. Rennie's bridge is no longer visible; it was widened in 1873 and again in the late 1970s, and the original structure is hidden by the later stonework. To the east of the Wellington Road bridge is the bridge built in 1846 to carry the railway lines from Bradford and Huddersfield to the Central Station which was then situated on Wellington Street. The designer was Thomas Grainger.
Built in 1827 to a design by George Leather. This bridge takes its name from Monk Pits, an area of meadowland north of the river. It carried Whitehall Road, the main route from Halifax to Leeds into the centre of the town. The bridge was a bow-spring tied arch structure built of cast iron made at the Bowling Iron Works near Bradford. There was also a smaller stone bridge over the canal. By the 1880s the bridge could no longer cope with the increasing volume of traffic and a new bridge was built by the Leeds Corporation. This was designed by Thomas Hewson, the Borough Engineer, and was of cast iron lattice girder construction, with a span of 109ft. Rows of cast iron owls lined the parapet, and the Leeds coat of arms was carved on the stone pillars either side of the bridge. The bridge over the canal was also replaced with a cast iron structure, with the Leeds coat of arms cast into the ironwork.
Wellington Bridge gave access to the western end of the town, but there was no direct route from the School Close area to Holbeck south of the river except by ferry, which was inconvenient and sometimes dangerous. In 1829 a wooden footbridge was built across the river to link Neville Street on the north bank of the river to Water Lane on the south bank. In 1837 this footbridge was swept away in a flood. A much more substantial bridge, the Victoria Bridge, was built to replace it. The architect was George Leather Jnr., the engineer for the Aire and Calder Navigation Company. The bridge was built of local stone at a cost of £8,000, and was completed in 1839, shortly after the coronation of Queen Victoria. It was named in her honour, and her name carved on the central stone of the parapet. Victoria Bridge has a span of 80ft, and is 45ft wide.
The original Leeds Bridge was built in the 14th Century, and was made of stone, which tradition says came from the ruins of Leeds Castle at the western end of Boar Lane. It was widened in 1730, 1760, and again in 1796. For five hundred years the old Leeds Bridge was the main crossing point over the river, but by the middle of the 19th century the old medieval bridge could no longer cope with the volume of traffic using the main north – south route through the town. The old bridge was demolished in 1871 and replaced by the present structure. The new bridge was designed by T D Steel of Newport. It was made in cast iron with wrought iron girders and cross- girders, has a span of 102ft 6ins and supports a 60ft wide roadway. The ironwork was produced by John Butler at Stanningley, and the contractor was David Nichols of Leeds. The bridge was opened on 9th July 1873.
Crown Point Bridge
With the rapid development of the city in the 1820's, and increasing traffic using Leeds Bridge, there was a need for another crossing over the River Aire at the eastern end of the town. In 1840 an Act of Parliament was obtained which allowed the building of a bridge at Crown Point. The architects were George Leather & Son. Of Leeds, who designed a single span bridge, 120ft wide, made of cast iron, with an ornate fretted iron parapet. The iron castings were made by Booth & Co. at the Park iron works in Sheffield, and the stonework was by James Bray of Leeds. The bridge was opened in 1842, and cost £36,000 to build. Crown Point Bridge was originally a toll bridge, but the toll was abolished in 1868. The bridge was widened in 1994.
South Accommodation Road (Hunslet) Bridge
In the 1820s, Leeds became increasingly congested with traffic, and a new turnpike road was proposed to by-pass the centre of the town. The road ran from the Leeds-Wakefield Road to join the roads to York and Selby north of Leeds, crossing the river at Hunslet. A new bridge was needed, and in 1828 an iron suspension bridge, designed by George Leather was built at a cost of £4,200. By the 1890s, the bridge could no longer cope with the volume of traffic crossing the river, and in 1898 Leather's bridge was replaced by a lattice girder bridge designed by Thomas Hewson, the City Engineer. The bridge had a span of 146ft and was 50ft wide. It was replaced in 1992 by the Inner Ring Road Bridge, which was constructed alongside.
|Click images to enlarge|
Wellington Bridge, 1832
Wellington Bridge, 1938
Wellington Bridge over canal, 1941
Old Monk Bridge
New Monk Bridge, 1933
Old Leeds Bridge, 1866
New Leeds Bridge, 1999
Crown Point Bridge, 1840
Crown Point Bridge, 1999
South Accommodation Road Suspension Bridge, 1898
South Accommodation Road Bridge, 1899