Today’s Friday Photo is of a Scheduled Ancient Monument on the outskirts of Birmingham, marking the physical boundary between Sutton Coldfield and Warwickshire.
Known locally as the Water Orton Bridge, it dates from c.1520 and is a pack-horse bridge built by Bishop John Vesey of Sutton Coldfield.It is formerly listed as ‘The bridge over the River Tame’ and was possibly designed to help residents get to the mother church of Aston some 15 miles away. Pack-horse bridges were usually built on existing trade routes, and were also referred to as pack-horse routes, acting as the major transport arteries for Britain and Europe, before turnpike roads and canals came into usage in the 18th century. A pack-horse bridge was literally a bridge meant to carry ‘pack horses’ across water (usually a river or stream), consisting of one or more masonry arch, and had to be low in order for the horse’s panniers to cross without interference. I grew up just five minutes from the bridge and still to this day love to cross it in my car, looking at the rush of water below, and as a single-lane and very narrow bridge, sometimes a little bit of patience is required.