Levens Bridge, Cumbria
N 54° 15.617 W 002° 46.499
30U E 514657 N 6012504
Quick Description: Levens Bridge carries the A6 to the north. Before the motorway M6 was built in early 1970's, this bridge took all traffic heading to Scotland. An old packhorse crossing.
Location: Northwest England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 4/16/2007 12:31:02 AM
Waymark Code: WM1DZ5
In January 1710, the bridge is mentioned in court records as a public bridge in need of repair, as well as the approaches damaged by floods, needing repair. In October 1712, further repairs are paid for. This inspection and repair carries on for several years, until 1764 when it is felt enough work had been done. Yet a few years later more work is needed. Eventually part of the bridge falls down in 1795 and large amounts of money are spent by the county on extensive repairs.
During this period turnpikes (toll roads) were being created, particularly from Levens bridge across the mosses west towards Furness. But it was not until 1818 that the causeway was improved between Levens village and Sampool bridge, thus increasing traffic.
"1891 25 February. Levens Bridge consists of two spans, 52 ft. 7 ins. and 47 ft. 9 ins. on the south and north sides respectively, with a central pier 11 ft. 5 ins. thick. It has been built in two sections, the lower portion built first with an overall width of 10 feet, and the upper portion added. There has been no attempt to tie the two portions together and the consequence is that they have separated from nothing at the springing line to something approaching 12 inches at the crown. The whole structure is out of plumb, inclining from west to east. The surveyor suggests bolting the two sections together, and that the arches be bared on the top and levelled up with cement concrete and that covered with asphalte to prevent the water percolating through and further disintegrating the masonry. C.C. Minutes, 1889–94." (visit link
Travellers by horse drawn coach had two choices to get from Lancaster to Furness. Either quickly cross the tidal treacherous Morecambe Bay sands, or take the longer, safer route via Kendal. They had to travel from Lancaster up to Kendal on rutted muddy roads, to cross the Kent river, to then climb out of Kendal into the Lyth valley and across Bowland Bridge to Greenodd and Furness.
Once Levens Bridge was built, travellers could reduce their journey time, by crossing river Kent at a lower point. The track across the Lyth valley mosses was unstable and not at all solid.
The bridge was an important feature for travellers.
Even as late as the 1970s, Levens Bridge was important, as the M6 motorway ended 6 miles south at Carnforth. All Scotland bound traffic, using the A6, had to cross the bridge. The A6 was the main road north, until the M6 motorway was extended to the Scottish border, near Carlisle.