Friday Photo: Perry Bridge (Zig Zag Bridge)
Today’s Friday photo is Perry Bridge popularly known as the Zig Zag bridge, which crosses the River Tame alongside the current Aldridge road in Perry Barr. This beautiful red sandstone bridge is Grade II listed and a scheduled monument and is said to be the oldest non-building structure in Birmingham.
It was built in 1709 to replace an older medieval structure, with funds and material provided by local landowners such as Sir Henry Gough of Perry Hall. The bridge takes on its distinctive zigzag shape due the series of triangular recesses which were designed to give pedestrians space to avoid passing carriages and carts. It is a rare and well preserved example of a bridge of this kind built on a crossing point that can be traced back to Roman times. Indeed, it is also rumored that King Henry VIII and King Charles I had both used this crossing point when visiting the area. The bridge is also represented on the badge of Handsworth Grammar School, as Handsworth bridge trust, who had been custodians of Perry bridge, later went on to found the school in 1862.
Today, this little gem lies hidden by the imposing 1930’s Art Deco road bridge, which takes the burden of modern traffic.