Bracebridge Heath Reservoir
Bracebridge Heath shown within Lincolnshire
|OS grid reference|
|- London||115 mi (185 km) S|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||East Midlands|
Bracebridge Heath is a commuter village approximately 2 miles (3 km) south from the city and county town of Lincoln, England. It lies at the junction of two major roads the A15 to Sleaford and the A607 to Grantham, and was (until modern systems of local government were introduced in the 19th century) part of the Boothby Graffoe Wapentake. The village sits on top of Lincoln Cliff, overlooking Lincoln and the valley of the River Witham. The Viking Way runs along the cliff top, a 147 miles (237 km) long footpath, which runs from the Humber Bridge to Oakham. Population as of 2001 census = 4,530.
Bracebridge may have had its origins in the Old English braesc + brycg, meaning 'bridge or causeway made of branches'. The River Witham runs 1 mile (1.6 km) to the west, lending some credibility to this theory.
The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as "Brachebrige". Before the Norman Conquest lordship was held by Ulf Fenman, and after by Bishop Geoffrey of Coutances, who also became Tenant-in-chief.
Bracebridge Heath lies on the route of the Roman Ermine Street that runs approximately 200 miles (320 km) from London to York. The central road junction in Bracebridge Heath is the junction of three Roman roads, now the A15 (the Sleaford Road), the A607 (the Grantham Road), and Cross O'Cliffe Hill into Lincoln. The line of Ermine Street, when extended from its last traceable part at Harmston, south of Bracebridge Heath, runs north through Waddington to Heath Road in Bracebridge Heath. Heath Road continues the line of Ermine Street.
According to White's 1876 Lincolnshire, the parish of 1,482 acres (6.00 km2) was part of Boothby Graffoe Wapentake, and consisted of the Lincoln County Lunatic Asylum on Sleaford Road, All Saints' church, and a vicarage. In 1876, 340 persons were recorded as living in the parish, the most notable of which included:
- Thomas Allen, MD (at the Asylum)
- William Andrew, Solicitor
- Rev. William Bromehead BA, Vicar
- William Coupland, Blacksmith and Beerhouse
- William Green, Blacksmith
- George Kirkup, Asylum Steward
- William Mills, Wards Brickyard
- Edward Palmer, MD, Asylum Superintendent
- George Wheatley, Carpenter
- Charles White, Pattern and Clog Maker
- John Wollfit, Licensed Victualler, at The John Bull
- Thomas Butler, Farmer
- Charles Clarke, Farmer
- Edwin Scrivener, Farmer
- William Toulson, Farmer
- Mrs Mary Winn, Post and Carrier from Lincoln
- Harry Webber, Hall Farm hand
Modern Bracebridge Heath
Bracebridge Heath has changed considerably since White's description of 1876. The village boundary is now much extended northwards in the direction of Lincoln and south towards the nearby village of Waddington.
One local landmark is the water pumping station (known locally as 'The Water Tower') and reservoir located on Grantham Road; the water reservoir itself was extended in the early 1970s.
Other than the old mental hospital, there is St John's Church (Church of England) on Grantham Road and the Methodist Church, on almost the opposite side of the road. St John's primary school, formerly Bracebridge Heath County Primary School, is also located on the same road along with a small row of shops.
Just off Sleaford Road (A15) in the direction of Lincoln is the village hall almost behind 'The Bull' Public House. Earlier the church hall, situated behind St John's Church, was used, until the current village hall was built in the 1970s.
The Church Hall was taken over by the local Scout group (21st Lincoln) in the early 1980s. They had used it as their headquarters for many years.
There is a Police station on London road, which has recently (June 2012) been enlarged and refurbished.
The public Library, on London Road, currently open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, is situated next to the Police Station
Also on London Road is a large Medical centre and GP Surgery.
A war memorial can be found at the head of the junction of the Sleaford Road, London Road, and Grantham Road.
St John's Hospital
The 'Asylum' (St John's Mental Hospital) closed down in 1990 and was sold a few years later to a property developer, who constructed nearly 1,000 new houses in the village. The original hospital buildings are classified as Grade III listed buildings and are protected from demolition. During the redevelopment of the hospital site, a number of these protected buildings were refurbished and converted into flats and offices. Further development is planned on the site with the proposed demolition of the old white water tower which previously served the hospital. Although many of the old buildings are listed and therefore protected, the old water tower is not.
A large housing development was constructed at virtually the same time on the A15 Sleaford direction. The effect of these developments was to virtually double the size of the village.
Building work has continued with the construction of a housing development on Grantham Road on the site of the old 'Texaco' petrol station. Almost opposite is the old Pegasus service station (now derelict for some years), which is now used as a car wash and the new Pegasus motor garage.
Modern Bracebridge Heath has three public houses. 'The Blacksmiths Arms' on the site of the blacksmith's shop run by William Coupland, at the point where London Road forks into Sleaford Road (A15) and Grantham Road (A607) has recently been re-opened after standing derelict for some years. Directly Opposite this on the western side of Grantham Road is the John Bull, now renamed 'The Bull'. 'The Homestead' public house is a late-1990s building conversion of one the former hospital buildings, which served originally as the hospital medical director's residence.
The village is home to the headquarters of the local regional health authority.
Bracebridge Heath is well served with ameneties which include a Police station, a Public Library, a Primary School, a doctors surgery, Public Houses, Fish and Chip shop, Tesco Express, Co-Op, Chinese take-away, Indian take-away, a pharmacy, hairdressers, cafe, two church halls and a village hall. A local cricket club, Bracebridge Heath Cricket Club, has its pitch within the grounds. There are plans to resurrect a football club.
There is a petrol station on the A15 South East of the village.
Further along the Sleaford Road (A15), in the direction of Lincoln, is an area of open land which was known locally as 'The Hillies'. Although privately owned (by the Church), it served for many years as unofficial common land, used for sheep grazing, dog walking and for a rough and ready football pitch. In the 1980s the land was ploughed up and turned over to crop growing. A public footpath which forms part of The Viking Way stills runs through it.
RAF Bracebridge Heath
RAF Bracebridge Heath opened circa 1919-1920, housing No. 121 Squadron RAF and No. 4 Aircraft Acceptance Park RAF. A Royal Flying Corps (RFC) aerodrome at Bracebridge Heath originally opened in 1916 for use by the Robey-Peters aircraft factory, in the manufacture and flight testing of their own designs and licence-built Sopwith aircraft.
In the Second World War, an aircraft repair organisation at Bracebridge Heath, managed by A V Roe and Co Ltd, recovered large numbers of damaged Avro Lancaster bombers, which would otherwise have been scrapped, returning them to service and making a major contribution to the bomber offensive against Nazi Germany.
- "Documents Online: Bracebridge in Lincoln, Lincolnshire", Folio: 352v Great Domesday Book; The National Archives. Retrieved 24 December 2011
- "Bracebridge [Heath]", Domesdaymap.co.uk. Retrieved 24 December 2011
- Lincoln County Lunatic Asylum
- "St Johns Hospital". Pastscape. English Heritage. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- Aircraft, made in Lincoln published 2000, Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology.[better source needed]
- Media related to Bracebridge Heath at Wikimedia Commons
- "Bracebridge Heath", Official Website of Bracebridge Heath Village, bracebridgeheath.org.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2012
- "Bracebridge", Genuki.org.uk. Retrieved 24 December 2011
- "Bracebridge Asylum", Genuki.org.uk. Retrieved 24 December 2011
- Bracebridge [Heath] in the Domesday Book