Wilton Bridge is on Wilton Road just outside Ross-on-Wye and was built between 1597 to 1599 out of red sandstone. It replaced a wooden bridge that had superseded the ford in the Wye that was originally there.
In his Itinery, Leland stated:
"There is noe Bridge beneath Hereford on Wye, untill a little above the Confluence of Wye and Mone River."
This seems to mean that there was no bridge over the river Wye between Hereford and Monmouth although he goes on to say:
"there is a Wood Bridge by Rosse."
so it can be assumed that he was referring specifically to stone bridges.
The problem was that although the River Wye was low in the summer, it's source in the the mountains meant that in the winter it was a raging torrent the ford was impassable and so during the high water periods a ferry ran across the river.
At one point the ferry sank and as a result of an Act of Parliament in 1597, it was ordered that a stone bridge needed to be built to stop this from happening again. This was funded by imposing a tax on every town and village in Herefordshire except for Hereford city itself.
After it was completed, the rights of pontage (as it was a toll bridge) were granted to Charles Bridges as a reimbursement for his loss of ferry rights1.
The bridge may have initially called "Elizabeth's Bridge" as it was built in Queen Elizabeth's time but this was changed during repairs in the 1800's.
The bridge has a span of 95 yards made up of six arches each of which has three chamfered ribs. The only exception is that one of the arches was reduilt after the Civil War when the span was destroyed. In 1914 the bridge was strengthened internally and the ribs bonded together. This was done in such a way that none of the additions were exposed.
1 The Bridges of Wales and Western England
by E. Jervoise, A.M.Inst.C.E. - pub 1936 The Architectural Press
2 The Turbulent Story of Ross & Archenfield
against the famout background of Ross-on-Wye - Sept. 4 and 5 1976
[Page updated: Dec 04 2012 23:19:13]