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Sauls Bridge crosses the River Brain as it flows under Maldon Road. The name is a corruption of the name of John Salle who owned adjoining land in 1381, he built the original bridge to straddle the ford and subsequent bridges have provided a unique memorial which has spanned 600 years. The bridge was subsequently owned by the turnpike trust and was last replaced in 1814 when it became the second cast-iron bridge to be built in Essex.  The first over the River Lea was erected in 1810 by the Commercial Road Trust but was demolished in the Lea Valley development and so Sauls Bridge is the oldest cast-iron bridge in Essex. 

 

In 1814 Robert Lugar, Essex County Surveyor, called for quotations to renew the existing bridge at the site.  A brick span was intended but the quote from Ransome & Son of Ipswich for a cast-iron segmental girder structure with cast-iron cover plates at a cost of £700 was accepted although it was not the lowest tender.  It comprises seven arches of cast iron ribs of 18ft span and two ornamental cast iron parapet ribs, with cast iron plates resting on the lower rib flanges.  The edge spandrels are marked ‘Ransome & Son’ one side of the crown and ‘Ipswich 1814’ the other.  The original cast iron parapet remains on the East side, but the west side was removed for the 1955 footpath widening. The bridge is listed Grade II.

A little further downstream a timber trestle bridge was built in 1848 to carry the railway line from Maldon to Witham over the River Brain. After the branch line was closed in 1964, the bridge was demolished in 1968 to allow large vehicles easier access to the sewage works.

Sources: Janet Gyford; Maurice Smith; Cyril Taylor; Industrial Archaeology of Essex; Witham & Countryside Society

 

Text and Photographs: John Palombi and Cyril Taylor unless otherwise accredited. Illustrations: John Finch and Julie & John Denney. Translations: Google.com. Original Concept: Joy Vaughan, Witham Town Centre Strategy Group. Narration: John Rhodes
 

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