03 May 2018
Yorkshire Bridges: 27. Leeds Bridge, Leeds
This is another of the older bridges spanning the River Aire in Leeds, but far from the oldest. I previously reported on Crown Point Bridge, complete in 1842, and will shortly cover Victoria Bridge, completed in 1839. The Leeds Bridge which can be seen today wasn't opened until 1873.
However, a bridge at this site may date back at least to the 14th century. The medieval bridge was widened several times, in 1730, 1760 and 1796, before the present-day bridge was built to replace it.
The bridge visible today is a cast iron arch. A plaque on the bridge credits numerous mayors, aldermen and councillors, as well as William Henry Barlow, Consulting Engineer, and Thomas Dyne Steel, Engineer. The contractor was David Nichols, while the ironwork was provided by John Butler.
Barlow also designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge (with John Hawkshaw, completing Brunel's design), and St Pancras Station. Steel had begun his career apprenticed to James Rendel, and had wide experience in railways, mining, and industrial manufacture. According to his obituary, he became a specialist in iron roofs and bridges later in his career.
The bridge is Listed Grade II, and according to the listing, only the external arches are cast iron, with the internal arch ribs being in wrought iron and the deck in steel.
The bridge is currently undergoing strengthening and refurbishment, with a new reinforced concrete slab being installed before complete repainting takes place. The paintwork will be undertaken using a High Ratio Co-Polymerised Calcium Sulfonate Alkyd paint system, specially sourced from North America.