North Bridge, Halifax

A wooden bridge over the Hebble Brook was mentioned in 1277, and there were several bridges in the area, linking Halifax to Leeds, Bradford and the north, including Bowling Dyke Bridge, Lee Bridge and Shakehand Brig

A single-arch stone bridge is mentioned in 1719. This collapsed during the ceremony of beating the boundaries on Rogation Day in May 1770, injuring many.

In 1772, a new bridge was begun to accommodate the turnpike. It was built by Matthew Oates of Northowram using stone from quarries in nearby Crib Lane. This had 6 semicircular arches, was 400 ft long, 28½ ft wide, and 56 ft above the Hebble Brook which flowed beneath. It opened in 1774.

There was a toll-booth at the northern end. The tolls should have ceased when the costs of construction and maintenance had been recouped, but the Trustees continued – unlawfully – with the charges until 1804 when Michael Stocks and his men tore up the toll-gates.

In 1819, Mr Asquith of Hipperholme was pushed over the bridge. The bridge was subsequently surmounted with iron palisades to prevent any similar occurrence.

Part of the bridge collapsed in floods on 23rd July 1855.

This is discussed in the book the collection of Prints by J. R. Smith.

The bridge was demolished in 1870 – see S. B. Tillotson.

A new Bridge had to be rebuilt higher to allow trains to pass underneath for the new North Bridge Railway Station.

The bridge was designed by John Fraser. At the stone-laying ceremony, the stench from the Hebble Brook below was such that

the vicinity of the stone was liberally sprinkled with chloride of lime to counter the odour rising from the stream

The bridge opened on 25th October 1871. The opening ceremony is described in the Foldout entitled North Bridge 1871.

The cost of the bridge was £21,000 – and it was said to be

the cheapest bridge in the country

at the time at a cost of 17/6d per square foot of roadway. The cost of the bridge was finally paid off in March 1945.

The bridge has two elliptical arches – each with 160 ft span, and 16ft in height. The central pier is 75 ft high and contains a time capsule with coins, photographs, newspapers and other documents. It was 67 ft above the bed of the stream and 11 ft higher than the earlier bridge. This allowed the Halifax & Ovenden Junction Railway to pass beneath.

The Oates fountain is set into the south-west turret of the bridge.

The statue of Edward Akroyd stood at the south-west corner of the bridge.

In April 1935, the first automatic traffic lights were installed to control the busy junction with Charlestown Road, New Bank, and Boothtown Road, at the northern end of the bridge.

In 1968, it was closed to vehicles of more than 7 tons because it did not conform to new standards. It was strengthened and reopened, but became redundant and was superseded by Burdock Way. It is still used for local traffic.

Some accidents on the bridge are recorded in the Foldout on road accidents

See Cross Hills, North Bridge Baths, North Bridge Leisure Centre, North Bridge Station and Pine Apple, Halifax

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:04 / 12th May 2021 / 6715

Page Ref: MMN78

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