Heritage Trail Board 2 - Oakamoor bridge

 

The River Churnet starts on the moors around the Roaches. The upper reaches of the river provide one of the few British streams where rainbow trout occasionally spawn. It flows onwards through Tittesworth Reservoir and Leek, where it provides the power for Brindley's Water Mill. On the south side of Leek it flows next to the Cauldon canal and merges with the canal for a mile or so near Consall. The canal used to reach Uttoxeter, but now stops at Froghall while the river continues through Oakamoor eventually reaching Rocester, where it merges with the River Dove.

 

There has been a bridge over the River Churnet in Oakamoor for centuries. A report to the Stafford Quarter Sessions at Easter 1708 identified the presence of a decaying wooden bridge that was considered to be very dangerous and noted that several people, horses and cattle had drowned trying to cross the river here. At the next Session, the Court awarded £100 to build a stone bridge for carts and carriages. Although the court paid the building costs, the local people had to carry the 300 tons of stone to the site. the bridge was built between 1709 and 1710.

 

The road carried by the bridge was the Blythe Marsh to Thorpe Turnpike and at a meeting of the Turnpike Trust in 1762, the Trustees ordered a tollgate to be erected on the northend of the bridge. The tollhouse was built on the roadside in front of the limekilns, where it stood for some 150 years.

 

The bridge was widened upstream in 1778 to comply with the turnpike requirements - if you look carefully through the arches, you can see the join. After almost 300 years of use, the bridge still stands as a example of the highest calibre of stonework.