The Amazing Pulteney Bridge—4 Things You Must Know

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Pulteney Bridge
By travellight/Shutterstock

Pulteney Bridge is an overpass that crosses River Avon, built to connect the rural estate of Frances Pulteney and the main town in 1774.

The landmark is located in Bath, England, and is perfect for a charming and romantic evening stroll.

The bridge was designed by Scottish architect Robert Adam but has been restored multiple times throughout the years.

The iconic horseshoe-shaped weir not only controls the flow of river water but also adds a scenic aspect to the bridge.

The weir is, however, older than the bridge, built in the 16th century to prevent flooding in the area.

It was refurbished and modernized in the 1970s, giving it the current shape and aesthetic flow of water.

The view of the lake, weir and the Pulteney Bridge with its reflection of the arches is a visual of harmony from the parade gardens.

The Pulteney Weir is a serene place to watch, but the river flow is so strong it can evade any swimmer.

Pulteney Bridge
By gowithstock/Shutterstock

1. Why Is Pulteney Bridge Famous?

Pulteney Bridge being of unique architecture and history has been considered heritage and is a Grade 1 listed building.

The construction reflects Palladian-style Georgian architecture. The bridge has shops on both sides, all supported by the bridge itself.

One of only four bridges in the world—Pulteney Bridge—has a shopping strip along its length.

source: deposit photos

The design very much mimics the style of medieval bridges in Italy, like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

The Pulteney bridge has been featured on movie sets as well, as in the 2012 movie, Les Misérables, a French historic movie, where Russell Crowe plays Javert.

2. Can You Walk Over to Pulteney Bridge?

Yes, pedestrians can cross the bridge on foot. But it would be just like walking through a street.

One might not be aware that it’s a bridge because of the shops that span both sides. It is available always and costs nothing.

3. Can You Drive Over to Pulteney Bridge Bath?

The route is only for buses, taxis, and bicycles; cars and other traffic will be fined as they are not allowed.

One can walk along the bridge to access the cafes and the quirky shops.

However, there are plans to completely stop the motor vehicles on this historical heritage, but it’s not yet in place.

4. How Old Is Pulteney Bridge in Bath?

The bridge is of historical value as it was built in the 17th century. William Johnstone Pulteney had grand plans for the new town and constructed the bridge with a vision.

The land inherited by his wife, Frances Pulteney, was a rural property, and to get across the river, one had to depend on the ferry.

William Pulteney was a lawyer and a parliament member; as an important man with sufficient political connections, he got the bridge commissioned by the bath city council.

William took several estimates that included a very normal design to a little fancy one. However, bridge design was assigned to Robert Adam, who took inspiration from similar designs to the bridges in Rome and Italy.

The shops on both sides, the columns that held them with designed porticos, the intricacy was so detailed that the Venetian windows and doors had a display of lights that intrigued the passerby.

The low round domes that are hidden behind the pointed façade of the two ending structures, which are actually little extensions, are present. Welsh slate makes up the roof, which is sloped.

The bridge, after protests from the locals, was completed in 1774. However, it wasn’t easy to attract tenants.

Closer to 1792, the bridge had a good economy, and a revision in the structure was made by expanding certain parts.

But disaster struck in 1799. There was a vast flood that destroyed and damaged the bridge.

It was later repaired, but the new bridge had lost its charm and uniqueness of what Adam had designated.

With sharp changes to the windows and roofs, the restored bridge had no merit. In 1804, a new western mid-stream pier was constructed.

In 1895, the west pavilion was moved to provide a place for the Grand Parade, which was another modification. The area had a wide range of commercial access from the start of the 19th century.

But the architecture was neglected, and changes were made to increase commercial benefits.

It was in the mid-19th century that the bath city council took over the rest of the shops and restored the bridge to its original glory. The Palladian-style bridge has been renewed and reinforced with limestone.

Over the years, the north side of the bridge was altered many times; some shops expanded over beams and hung over the river itself.

Thus, the North is much less photographed and looks like a normal bridge. It is the south side that has architectural value and has the view of the original design.

With the construction of the grand parade, there were changes made to the Pulteney Bridge, and some of the shops were removed.

Final Thought

Pulteney Bridge
By Alexey Fedorenko/Shutterstock

If you plan to visit Pulteney Bridge, do check out the visitor’s guide to sightseeing near Pulteney Bridge.

Apart from the shop-lined bridges, exploring the activities and attractions nearby is worth your time.

Pulteney Bridge leads right into the Great Pulteney Street, lined with 18th-century style Georgian architecture. Holburne Museum, Royal Crescent, Jane Austen Center, Victoria Art Gallery, and Roman Baths are a few suggestions for your trip to Bath City.

There are a variety of shops you can browse from, including a sweet cafe that has a view of River Avon, florists, antique shops, jewellers, and restaurants.

The restaurants and cafe give you a breathtaking view of the river and the weir. You can tour the area with boats as well.

As the location of Pulteney Bridge is perfect and snug in between many sightseeing places, it is one of the most peaceful places in Bath city for a leisurely stroll.

There are many hotels and inns for accommodation near the Pulteney bridge, and some actually open out to the immense view itself.

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