Newport Pagnell Bridges

The North Bridge

The North Bridge-Newport Pagnell
by Edwin Wombwell

The Newport Pagnell Historical Society was formed in 1984 and houses its collection at the town museum at Chandos Hall in Silver Street. Amongst its artefacts is an oil painting donated by the late Miss Catherine Bull a descendant of the Bull family, local solicitors in the town for over two hundred years. The painting of the North Bridge over the Great Ouse on the road that leads to Bedford and Northampton was painted by Edwin Wombwell.
Edwin Edward Wombwell was born in 1802 at Stoke Newington, Middlesex and by the 1850’s unmarried was residing at Newport Pagnell when he was described as a painter and restorer. He only ever took board and lodgings and in 1861 lived at Wolverton at the Plough Inn, then a widower and artist. He was known to have painted local landscapes and several pub signs one of which was the March of Intellect, depicting a chimney sweep playing a piano and on the reverse a very competent painting of the Rotherhithe Tunnel. This pub sign ended up in Bournemouth in 1951 and would be a great find if it still exists. Wombwell returned to Newport Pagnell by the 1880’s then calling himself a landscape artist and known locally as “George Wombwell”.
Edwin Edward Wombwell died in 1885 and is buried in the Parish Church cemetery.

Don Hurst

Tickford Iron Bridge

Tickford Iron Bridge
artisit unknown

A sketch of Newport Pagnell's famous Iron Bridge dated circa 1820, only a few years after the bridge was constructed in 1810. This sketch looking down- stream towards rivers meet (where the Great Ouse meets the River Lovat) shows on the right the business premises of the Yates family who were fellmongers and also kept a tannery by the bridge. The family established their business in the 18th century.

Don Hurst

NPHS member, Brian Breacher has written the following poem dedicated to the Tickford Iron Bridge.
Brian lives close to the bridge and can see it from his window.
Tickford Bridge
For two hundred years Tickford Bridge has stood as testimony
to a distinguished legacy of local history.
The world's oldest cast-iron bridge carrying a full traffic load;
a Grade A listed monument on the B526 road.

Constructed in 1810 to be ornate and strong;
reinforced with carbon fibre and measuring fifty one paces long.
Made by Messrs Wilson, Walker, Provis and Yates,
just thirty four years after the birth of the United States.

Starting life as a toll bridge of special note;
mentioned in many books on Newport Pagnell so preciously wrote.
Coach and horses carrying the mail, droves of sheep, itinerants for hire,
and ladies in fine lace-trimmed attire.

Travellers between London and Leicester crossing the Lovat-cum-Ouzel,
cut through pasture idyllic and rural.
Towards the bridge the river glides at gentle pace,
whilst the royal swan lingers with such classical grace.

Passers-by gaze, fishermen dream, children swoon,
Aylesbury duck with mallard paddle and consume.
On a sunny day there's no lovelier green,
as the majestic willow and sycamore add colour to the river scene.

On such a note I ought to mention the grass,
for it's really quite rich and bright when seen as you walk past.
Such perfect places for a family feast,
with Lovat Meadow lying to the west and Castle Meadow at the east.

Oh! And all the fish that gather at the bridge when folk
encroach, the perch, large carp and orange finned roach.
Amid the current, yellow lily and green rushes grow;
then watch shoals of bleak in a symphony of movement go.

Tickford Bridge then, is the focal point of an attractive place,
of ancient buildings and prime fertile space.
Of commoner's rights, and many important visitors, of strangers,
soldiers and travellers right down the ages.

A fine landmark that's primarily known
for helping to make Newport Pagnell such a blessed, significant town.

Brian M Breacher September 2009.