Carlisle - Eden Bridges

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Many thanks to The Sands Centre  and United Utilities for facilitating this camera's location. 

There’s only one Eden Bridge, no not a chant from a local football club but a fact often contradicted by native Cumbrians who talk about the “Eden Bridges.”

Originally there were two separate bridges to the north of Carlisle city centre and as Helen Skelton writes the site has always been a hive of activity.

Once dominated by horse led traps and farmers leading their horses to Carlisle Station anecdotal evidence suggests Eden Bridges has played a vital role in Carlisle’s social and economic development.

George Skelton worked on a stud farm in Tarraby north of the city and says there were days whenhe crossed this bridge four times a day: “I’ve led sawdust out of Carrs biscuit factory, four times a day you did two in the morning had your lunch and two in the afternoon. I remember walking foals to Carlisle station, you didn’t lead it or nothing it just followed its mother.”

That was about 1940, at that time it wasn’t just local farmers that frequented Eden bridge. Once upon a time there was a cattle market on the current site of the Sands Lesiure Centre. The market was mainly for beef farmers and attracted a lot of Irish who came into the county via Silloth.

The days of confirming a deal with a slap of the hand might seem a long time ago to some, but that’s nothing when you consider how far back Eden Bridge dates.

A map dated 1685 and held in the county archive office shows that there used to be two separate Eden bridges in Carlisle, separated by a piece of land referred to as the sands.

The assistant county archivist David Bowcock says that in county records there were repeated calls for the bridges to be repaired and rebuilt throughout the eighteenth century.

Evidence he suggests, that over the years the bridges were damaged by floods. Maps dated 1821 show that the two separate bridges had been replaced by one single structure.

Eden Bridge with its five high arches was completed in 1815 to a design by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect who among other things designed Lowther Castle, Appleby Cloisters and Whitehaven Market Hall.

The current bridge is double its original width, it was widened in 1932.

With four lanes of traffic, a cycle path and a foot path on each side the bridge is busy at almost any point of the day.

Commuters make their way into the city centre, others cross it to join the M6 north of Carlisle and reach the Kingstown Industrial Estate.  On foot students head for the arts institute in Stanwix and walkers head to Rickerby Park north of the river.

You would have to be mad to lead a horse over Eden Bridge in today’s traffic but there is still plenty of agricultural activity surrounding this structure.

To the right and north of the bridge you can often see a farmer and his sheep dog rounding his sheep in Rickerby Park

Original Article on the BBC website