Bridges of York

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There are nine bridges across the River Ouse within the city of York, England, and sixteen smaller bridges across the narrower River Foss.

An engraving of the fourth Ouse Bridge (1565–1810)

Bridges over the Ouse[edit]

The earliest bridge, built by the Romans, linked Stonegate (the via praetoria of the Roman fortress) and Micklegate, and crossed the river approximately where the Guildhall now is. Its replacement, Ouse Bridge, was a wooden bridge built about 350 metres downstream by the Vikings. It has been rebuilt three times, most recently between 1810 and 1820. The Scarborough Railway Bridge of 1845 was the second bridge to be built, and it was followed by two more road bridges, Lendal Bridge in 1863 and Skeldergate Bridge in 1882. The Millennium Bridge, a footbridge, was added in 2001. There are also Clifton Bridge in the northern suburbs of the city, two modern fly-overs carrying the outer ring road, and the former railway bridge at Naburn, which is now part of the York-Selby cycle path.

North to south, the bridges are:

Ouse Bridge[edit]

Ouse Bridge from the South Bank, looking upstream through Skeldergate Bridge

The original Roman bridge over the Ouse was eventually replaced by a wooden bridge built further downstream by the Vikings. In 1154, it collapsed under the weight of a crowd which had gathered to greet St William of York on his return from exile. It was replaced by a stone bridge. In 1367 the first public toilets in Yorkshire, and likely England, were opened on the bridge.[1] Part of the bridge was swept away by floods in the winter of 1564–5. The repaired bridge of 1565 had a new central arch spanning 81 ft, and was described by Defoe as "...near 70 foot [21 m] in diameter; it is, without exception, the greatest in England, some say it's as large as the Rialto at Venice, though I think not." This bridge was dismantled between 1810 and 1818 to make way for the New Ouse Bridge, designed by Peter Atkinson the younger, completed in 1821.[2][3]

Scarborough Railway Bridge[edit]

Scarborough Railway Bridge from the South Bank, looking upstream

The second bridge across the Ouse was the Scarborough Railway Bridge, built in 1845 to carry the railway line between York and Scarborough (now the Scarborough branch of the North TransPennine route). Originally it had two tracks with a pedestrian path in between them. In 1875 the track was raised 4 feet (1.2 m) and the footpath moved to the south side, where it remains today.

Lendal Bridge[edit]

Lendal Bridge from the South Bank, looking downstream

Until 1861 there was a rope-ferry where Lendal Bridge now stands (see This was the ferry used by Florence Nightingale when she visited York en route to Castle Howard in 1852.

At both ends of the bridge there are towers, Barker Tower to the west and Lendal Tower to the east. Its engineer was Thomas Page, who also designed London's Westminster Bridge. It has a single span of 53 metres.

It was the second attempt to build a bridge here. The first, begun in 1860 by William Dredge, collapsed during construction, and five workmen were killed. Parts of the structure were later taken to Scarborough and used in the Valley Bridge there. [1]

In 1861 permission was obtained from Parliament for a new bridge to be built. In 1863 a second Lendal Bridge was built, designed by Thomas Page: it is an iron bridge with Gothic features. It links Station Road with Museum Street and thus York railway station with York Minster, and is part of York's Inner Ring Road.

Lendal Bridge was used in Damon and Debbie, a 1987 spin-off of soap Brookside for the scenes where long-running character Damon Grant was murdered.

Skeldergate Bridge[edit]

Skeldergate Bridge from the South Bank, looking upstream

Skeldergate Bridge links the York Castle area and the old bailey at Baile Hill. It was built as a toll bridge between 1878 and 1880 (architect: George Gordon Page). A small arch by the former tollhouse at the east end of the bridge was originally designed to open so that tall ships could sail up to the quays on either side of the river between Skeldergate and Ouse Bridges. Skeldergate Bridge was formally declared free of tolls on 1 April 1914.

Millennium Bridge[edit]

Coordinates: 53°56′41.33″N 1°4′55.42″W / 53.9448139°N 1.0820611°W / 53.9448139; -1.0820611

York Millennium Bridge from the South Bank, looking downstream

The Millennium Bridge, built to a competition-winning design by Whitby Bird and Partners,[4] was opened on 10 April 2001, having cost £4.2m to build. It spans the River Ouse to the south of York, linking Hospital Fields Road and Maple Grove in Fulford with Butcher Terrace on the South Bank. The bridge carries a cycle path and a footpath, and is not open to vehicular traffic. It is a key link in the Sustrans National Cycle Routes 65/66 and will be part of the orbital route for York completed in 2011. The bridge shortened the walk or cycle for students from houses in the South Bank to the University of York (they previously had to travel via Skeldergate Bridge).

The bridge also acts a meeting place for local people, as it has a waist height shelf spanning the whole structure which facilitates sitting and admiring the view.Increasingly it is used as a circular walk from the city centre taking in the New Walk on the east bank and Terry Avenue and Rowntree Park on the west bank. While riverside paths regularly flood several times a year the bridge is higher and rarely cut off by floodwaters. Signs on approaches from Fulford Rd /Hospital Fields Rd junction and Butcher Terrace/Bishopthorpe Road warn when it may be impassible without wellies.

Supplies for Fulford Barracks were brought in by river near this location, and the remains of a narrow gauge railway may be seen on the eastern bank of the river a few metres toward the city. There used to be a rope ferry at this location as well.

Naburn Railway Bridge[edit]

Naburn bridge and sculpture from west bank

Outside the outer ring-road, the Naburn bridge used to carry the York-Selby railway until it was diverted in 1983. The bridge now constitutes part of the York & Selby cycle path, connecting the TransPennine trail to York.[5] It is also known as the "Fisherman Bridge" due to a large metal sculpture of a fisherman with bike and dog, sitting on top which was added in 2000 as part of the York Council "Creative Communities 2000" scheme [2].

Clifton Bridge[edit]

Clifton bridge

A temporary bridge at Clifton was built by the British Army in 1961 on the site of an old ferry crossing to handle additional vehicle traffic caused by the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Kent at York Minster. A permanent bridge was opened officially on 28 October 1963. The bridge is built from 4,000 tons of concrete and 50 tons of reinforced steel[3], [4].

Bridges over the Foss[edit]

Foss Bridge from the north, looking downstream

South to north, from the confluence with the Ouse, these are:

Many of these are unobtrusive modern bridges carrying main roads. The following are more notable:

Foss Bridge[edit]

The Foss Bridge, a single Georgian gritstone arch with balusters, links the streets Fossgate and Walmgate. It is believed that the earliest bridge on this site was constructed during the Viking period. The present bridge, designed by Peter Atkinson the younger and erected in 1811–12, replaced a wooden bridge. The bridge was once the site of a fish market.[3][6]

Pedestrian bridge from Foss island Road to Defra site[edit]

Pedestrian bridge from the west, looking downstream

This cast-iron pedestrian bridge from Foss Islands Road to what is now the Defra site at Peasholme Green was constructed in 1931 by the Monk Bridge Construction Company to improve communications between York's power station and its cooling tower, both now demolished.[7] It is locked and not in use.

Monk Bridge[edit]

Monk Bridge is a single-arched ashlar bridge with a span of approximately six metres. It carries traffic between central York and Heworth and was built in 1794 to designs by Peter Atkinson the elder. In 1924-6, the bridge was widened and the upper part rebuilt.[3]


  1. ^ York History
  2. ^ Structurae [en]: Ouse Bridge (1821)
  3. ^ a b c Pevsner, Nikolaus; and Neave, David (1995) [1972]. Yorkshire: York and the East Riding (2nd ed.). London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-071061-2. 
  4. ^ Bridge Engineering Analysis: Cast Study: York Millennium Bridge
  5. ^ "Trans Pennine Trail". Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Evans, Antonia (ed) (2002). The York Book. York: Blue Bridge. ISBN 0-9542749-0-3. 
  7. ^ Mitchell, Vic, and Keith Smith (2003). Branch Line to the Derwent Valley, including the Foss Islands Branch (Map V). Midhurst: Middleton Press. ISBN 1-904474-06-3. 

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