26 April 2018

Yorkshire Bridges: 24. Crown Point Bridge, Leeds

This is the next bridge across the River Aire in Leeds, proceeding west from Knight's Way Footbridge.

Crown Point Bridge was built in 1842, and is Listed Grade II. The Listing states that it was designed by George Leather, but an ICE obituary attributes the bridge to George's son, John Wignall Leather. The pair played a key part in development in the Leeds area at the time, developing the Aire and Calder Navigation, and a series of bridges, including Monk Bridge (1827), Victoria Bridge (1839) and the Stanley Ferry Aqueduct (1839).

The Crown Point Bridge was constructed to provide a connection to new areas of Leeds then undergoing development, and was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1840. In its original form, it comprised ten parallel cast iron arch ribs, spanning 120 feet.

The cast iron elements were supplied by Booth and Co., of Sheffield's Park Ironworks, at a cost of £8,750. The total bridge construction cost was £36,000, including approach spans. Initially the bridge was tolled, although the toll was removed in 1868.

The bridge is ornate in the extreme, but it remains elegant due to the basic clarity of the different pieces - the arch ribs, spandrel X-bracing, beams and parapets.

In 1989, the bridge was assessed as unsuitable for heavy modern traffic, and Leeds City Council designed a strengthening and widening scheme, completed in 1995. The basics of the scheme can be seen from below the bridge: the two edge arch ribs on each edge of the bridge have been retained and relocated, and twelve new steel arches have been inserted in between.

The cost of the scheme was approximately £2.2m. The existing foundations were widened and strengthened with the insertion of new mini-piles. The arch ribs on the eastern face were extended in length by replacing one 7.5m segment with new longer cast iron segments: this is visible in some of the photographs, although it's certainly not immediately obvious.

The bridge alterations won a City of Leeds Award for Architecture (1996) and were Commended in the ICE Yorkshire Association Awards (1997). Photographs taken during construction can be found at the Richard's Bridges website link below, the Richard in question being J Richard Kay, former Chief Bridge Engineer for Leeds City Council.

Further information:

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