Dr. Bill O' Gorman, from WIT, speaking about this site on WLR

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Bridges of Waterford

Waterford did not have a bridge over the Suir until 1794. The river at Waterford is wide and deep and it was regarded as a huge job to build a bridge across it.

Before 1794 access to Waterford City from many areas was by ferry. William III had granted this ferry (and fifteen others) to James Roche and by 1786 ownership had passed to Cornelius Grogan. The principal ferries, across the Suir were those at Waterford City, Passage East and Granagh. The ferries were of great antiquity and are mentioned in the Great Parchment Book of the Waterford Corporation.

Meanwhile the renowned bridge builder Lemuel Cox of Malden, Massachusetts was invited to Waterford to build the proposed bridge. In 1785 Cox built his first bridge from Boston to Charlestown, across the Charlestown River. Before coming to Waterford he had already built the Foyle Bridge in Derry which he finished in 1792. After Waterford, Cox went on to build bridges in New Ross, Wexford, Enniscorthy and Portuma

The site chosen for the bridge was opposite Love Lane (Bridge Street). The bridge was constructed out of American oak. The bottom of the river was levelled and trestles were placed on the river bed. Lemuel Cox was presented with the freedom of the City of Waterford in a silver box in recognition of his work on the bridge.

The bridge was a toll bridge. This was unpopular with the citizens of Waterford but despite public complaints, Timbertoes remained a toll bridge for over 100 years. In 1906 the Corporation promoted a 'Bridge Act' that empowered them to give notice to the Bridge proprietors to purchase the bridge. By 1907 the Corporation purchased the Toll Bridge for £63, 000, making it a toll free bridge from midnight on the 31st December 1907.

On Friday 20th December 1907 the editorial of The Waterford News reads, "The Bridge is now the property of the citizens of Waterford and on the first day of January, 1908 it will be a Free Bridge...it is safe to say it will materially increase the trade of Waterford City" The paper added, "the fight for the freedom of the bridge has been arduous and costly".

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