"An architectural symbol of Bath" Pulteney Bridge Tip by annase
Pulteney Bridge, Bath: 42 reviews and 98 photos
Pultney Bridge is one of only four bridges in the world that have been lined by shops on both sides. Shops located on the bridge include a flower shop, an antique map shop, and a juice bar.
It is named after Frances Pulteney, heiress of the Bathwick estate across the River Avon. At the time, Bathwick was a simple village in a rural setting, but Frances's husband William could see its potential. He made plans to create a new town, which would become a suburb to Bath. Before that he needed a better river crossing than the existing ferry. Hence the bridge.
Pulteney approached architect Robert Adam who designed the bridge. In his hands the simple construction envisaged by Pulteney became an elegant structure lined with shops. Adam had visited both Florence and Venice, where he would have seen the Ponte Vecchio and the Ponte di Rialto. The bridge was completed in 1773. During its existence the bridge has suffered so many changes that Adam would only recognise the south river front.
The bridge stood for less than 20 years in its original form. In 1792, alterations to enlarge the shops marred the elegance of the fašades. Floods in 1799 and 1800 wrecked the north side of the bridge, which had been constructed with inadequate support. It was rebuilt in a less ambitious version of Adam's design.
19th-century shopkeepers altered windows, or cantilevered out over the river as the fancy took them. The western end pavilion on the south side was demolished in 1903 for road widening and its replacement was not an exact match.
The bridge was restorated again in the 50s and 70s, but it could not be returned to its original form. If you step on the so called 'backside' of the bridge, you'll see that it is not very pretty at all.
Nevertheless, it is now one of the best-known buildings in a city famed for its Georgian architecture. It's a shame though that the bridge is not lighted by night.
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