Skerton Bridge

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Skerton Bridge
Skerton Bridge - - 957967.jpg
Skerton Bridge in 2008
Carries A6 road (southbound lanes)
Crosses River Lune
Locale Lancaster, Lancashire, England
Design Arch Bridge
Opened 1787
Heritage status Grade II* listed structure
Engraving of the bridge by John Landseer dated 1791

Skerton Bridge is a road bridge carrying the southbound lanes of the A6 road over the River Lune in Lancaster, Lancashire, England. The bridge is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.[1]


Towards the end of 18th century the old medieval bridge over the River Lune was becoming inadequate for its purpose. A petition was made for an Act of Parliament to allow for the building of a new bridge at a more convenient site; this was passed in June 1782. A competition was held for the design of the new bridge, which was won by Thomas Harrison,[2] his first major commission.[3][4] The first stone was laid in June 1783, and the bridge was completed in September 1787; it cost £14,000 (£1,550,000 as of 2014).[5][6] In 1839 repair and repointing of the bridge was supervised by the local architect Edmund Sharpe.[7] An additional arch was added to the south end of the bridge in about 1849 to allow for the passage of the "Little" North Western Railway (since closed) beneath it.[1][8] It continues to be used as a road bridge, and when it was examined in 1995 it was considered to be strong enough to carry vehicles weighing up to 40 tons—ten times the weight of the heaviest vehicles in 1783.[9]


The bridge is constructed in sandstone ashlar. It consists of five semi-elliptical arches with piers that are articulated by aedicules formed by attached Tuscan columns supporting pediments; it has a balustraded parapet.[1] The semi-elliptical arches allow it to have a flat road deck.[4][8][10] Each of the five original arches spans 64 feet (19.5 m), and the deck between the parapets is 33 feet (10.1 m) wide. There are stormwater channels in the spandrels between the arches and at the abutments.[8]


Skerton Bridge was the first large public bridge in England to have a flat rather than a bowed roadway.[4][8][10] There had been earlier bridges elsewhere with this feature, for example Coldstream Bridge (1763) in Scotland, designed by John Smeaton,[11] and a bridge at Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris (1768–74; demolished in 1939) by Jean-Rodolphe Perronet.[10] Harrison's design influenced John Rennie in his designs of Kelso Bridge (1803), Waterloo Bridge (1809–17), and London Bridge (1824–31).[4]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c English Heritage. "Skerton Bridge, Lancaster (1212253)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Champness 2005, p. 17.
  3. ^ Champness 2005, p. 5.
  4. ^ a b c d Hartwell & Pevsner 2009, p. 386.
  5. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  6. ^ Champness 2005, pp. 20–21.
  7. ^ Hughes, John M. (2010), Edmund Sharpe: Man of Lancaster, John M. Hughes, pp. 166–168 
  8. ^ a b c d Skerton Bridge, Engineering Timelines, retrieved 30 November 2011 
  9. ^ Champness 2005, p. 19.
  10. ^ a b c Rudolf-Hanley, Moira (2004), "Harrison, Thomas (bap. 1744, d. 1829)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press), retrieved 19 November 2011  (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  11. ^ Champness 2005, p. 21.


Coordinates: 54°03′16″N 2°47′47″W / 54.0545°N 2.7965°W / 54.0545; -2.7965