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Bold Bridge

A Grade II Listed Building in Bold, St. Helens

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Latitude: 53.3997 / 53°23'58"N

Longitude: -2.718 / 2°43'4"W

OS Eastings: 352356

OS Northings: 389447

OS Grid: SJ523894

Mapcode National: GBR 9YG4.C0

Mapcode Global: WH87C.6TZ3

Plus Code: 9C5V97XJ+VQ

Entry Name: Bold Bridge

Listing Date: 5 April 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1432249

Location: Bold, St. Helens, WA8

County: St. Helens

Civil Parish: Bold

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Farnworth St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool

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Five-arched angled road bridge over the St Helens & Runcorn Gap Railway line, 1832, by Charles Blacker Vignoles.


Five-arched angled road bridge over the St Helens & Runcorn Gap Railway line, 1832, by Charles Blacker Vignoles.

The bridge has a main elliptical central arch, which is skewed and spans the former railway line. This main arch is flanked by two smaller arches on each side, which have been blocked up and are largely hidden from view by overgrown vegetation and earth bankings. All the arches have banded rustication, impost bands, shaped voussoirs and prominent keystones. Above the arches is a projecting carriageway band (designed like a stringcourse) and a low parapet composed of massive stone blocks with rounded copings and intermittent carved panelled pedestals. The bridge splays outwards at each end, with the parapets terminated by further carved panelled pedestals.


Bold Bridge was constructed in 1832 and was originally known as 'Five Arched Bridge'. It was constructed as part of the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway (later known as the St Helens and Widnes Railway), which had been promoted by local colliery owners to provide a line between St Helens and a new dock on the River Mersey at Runcorn Gap. The bridge carried the Liverpool-Warrington turnpike (now the A57/Warrington Road) over the railway.

In 1829 a group of local businessmen and colliery owners commissioned Charles Blacker Vignoles, the surveyor of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which was being built at that time, to undertake a survey of the proposed line. He was later appointed as engineer. An Act of Parliament was obtained on 29 May 1830 and the original capital was £120,000. However, work proceeded slowly and costs overran.

The line opened in February 1833 and became the world's first rail to ship facility when the Runcorn Gap dock was fully completed in August 1833. Although it was principally a mineral railway, the line also carried passengers from early on. Due to steep inclines parts of the line were operated by stationary engines, but in the late 1840s/early 1850s improvements were made to enable the use of locomotives along the whole length of the line.

In 1845 the railway merged with the Sankey Brook Navigation Co to become the St Helens Canal and Railway Co. Branch extensions were added to Garston Docks in the west and Warrington in the east in 1852 and 1853 respectively, with this east-west line later being leased by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR). The entire company was acquired by the LNWR in 1864.

The original part of the line, on which Bold Bridge is located, closed to passengers in 1951, and to freight in the 1980s; the track was subsequently lifted. Much of the old railway route in Widnes was lost when a new expressway link to the M62 was created, but a 2.7km section of the original line, including the section underneath Bold Bridge, was converted into a footpath and cycle path in 2014.

Charles Blacker Vignoles (1793-1875) first trained in law, but in 1817 he set sail for America where he became the assistant to the state civil engineer in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1821 he became city surveyor in St Augustine, Florida, and in 1923 he published a map of Florida. However, he returned to England in 1823 where he continued to work as a surveyor, becoming assistant to James Walker, engineer of the London Commercial Docks. By mid-1824 he had his own offices in Hatton Garden and his career in railway design began, commencing with carrying out surveys for the Rennie brothers for a line between London and Brighton, and a line between Liverpool and Manchester. In the 1830s Vignoles surveyed and constructed a number of English railways, particularly in Lancashire, as well as railways in Ireland, France and Germany. He later worked in Ukraine, Switzerland, Brazil and Spain before retiring in 1863. Vignoles has at least 10 listed bridges, viaducts and tunnels to his name in England.

Reasons for Listing

Bold Bridge, constructed in 1832 on the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: it has strong historic interest as one of the earliest bridges of the railway age, constructed on the world's first rail to ship line;

* Engineer: it was designed by the notable railway engineer Charles Blacker Vignoles who was also the engineer of the pioneering Liverpool and Manchester Railway;

* Design interest: it has an unusual 5-arched design with a main central arch spanning the former railway line that is both elliptical and skewed;

* Architectural interest: the bridge's banded rustication, shaped voussoirs, impost bands and a parapet incorporating panelled pedestals provide a level of detailing far above the purely functional.

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