Wiltshire Publications

Bath bridge was unknown family history for local man

A CHAPMANSLADEresident recently helped to reopen Bath’s Victoria Bridge, shortly after discovering his great-great-uncle designed and commissioned the structure in the 19th century.

Nigel Bridewell of Chapmanslade is a direct descendant of engineer James Dredge, also from Chapmanslade, who designed the Victoria Bridge which connects the Upper and Lower Bristol Roads in Bath.

The footbridge, built in 1836, was closed to the public in 2010 after being declared too dangerous because of its bad condition. In 2014 the Grade II listed bridge underwent a  £3.5m refurbishment in its original style, and Nigel was approached to help with the reopening.

Nigel said, “I had no idea about the bridge until I was contacted by an engineer from Belfast who was researching it for a book.

“I visited it a few times on my way to and from the RUH and saw that it was closed and then that it was being rebuilt. I was asked to help with the reopening, when I met another descendant and distant cousin of mine, Stewart Dredge, who I’d also never heard of! It was all very out of the blue.

“The bridge was actually built by my great-great-uncle to transport his beer across the river; he was a brewer in the city. It was so successful that he then left Bath to build similar bridges around the world.

“I revisit the bridge from time to time because it’s an interesting piece of family history. I believe the council is now also going to make a plaque in remembrance of James Dredge.”

The bridge was reopened to the public in January and can be used by pedestrians and cyclists to travel between the city centre and Oldfield Park.