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History of the old Tram Bridge


The old Tram Bridge was built in 1802.


The Tram Bridge opened in 1804 to carry packhorse 'trams' between the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Walton Summit and the Lancaster Canal in Preston.​

The bridge operated for approximately 40 years before falling into disrepair and by now called the 'Old Tram Bridge'.​

Old Tram Bridge

(Image: The old Tram Bridge c.1850. Photo credit: Red Rose Collection, Lancashire Archive)


The bridge was acquired by Preston Corporation from the London and North, Western Railway Company in 1872 under the Lancaster Canal Transfer Act 1864.

Abutments are the only surviving part of this structure.


The bridge was rebuilt by Preston Corporation in the 1890's - following the establishment of Avenham Park.​

The stone pilasters at the ends of the bridge were installed at this time.​

The old Tram Bridge 1893

(Image: The old Tram Bridge 1893. Copyright: The Francis Frith Collection)

The old Tram Bridge circa 1901

(Image: The old Tram Bridge c.1901. Photo credit: Red Rose Collection, Lancashire Archive)


Badly damaged by flooding in 1936 after which it was rebuilt with concrete trestle supports in the river. These were made of railway rails surrounded in concrete. ​

These supports still exist.

The timber bridge deck was removed during World War II. Presumably for defence reasons.​

The old Tram Bridge circa 1940

(Image: The old Tram Bridge c.1940. Photo credit: Red Rose Collection, Lancashire Archive)


The bridge was restored by the 1950's and used by visitors to the park. ​


An inspection in 1960 revealed that much of the timber was rotten and the concrete supports were beginning to deteriorate. ​

It was decided that the bridge deck needed to be replaced.


The old bridge was closed on safety grounds in November 1964 and tenders were sought for replacing the bridge deck.​

Options considered included replacement in timber or concrete or a possible suspension bridge.​


Matthews and Mumby's tender for the sum of £17,725 was accepted by the Parks Committee and a government loan was granted for the work by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in April 1965.​

Work to replace the timber deck in concrete began in October 1965.​


From 1980's onwards inspections identify multiple defects ​with frequent reports of debris caught in supports.​


An inspection in 1990 revealed connections between beams at the supports failed due to corrosion.


A Principal Inspection in 2013 raised concerns and condition very poor.


Principal Inspection identified over 200 defects with a number of serious concern.

Recommended to close the bridge on safety grounds and that a replacement was required.​

In February 2019 the bridge closed to the public.​

In April 2019 the report findings were reviewed by Jacobs Ltd. ​


Preston City Council successfully bid for £20m Levelling Up funding for The Active Preston concept and Transforming Community Infrastructure.​

Active Preston is built around projects that encourage people to be more active with added benefits in terms of regeneration, health outcomes, economic activity and environmental benefit.​

There are four active travel projects that form part of the overall bid along with three parks development projects to encourage sports participation and recreation.​

The replacement of the bridge is one of the Active Travel Projects.


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