Knight Stainforth Packhorse Bridge

 
 JOURNAL 
 2017 
 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

In May 2016 the very narrow old packhorse bridge over the River Ribble at Knight Stainforth was damaged by a vehicle. The bridge was closed to vehicles and pedestrians in October 2016 for three weeks for repair. Alan King brought to our attention a document dated 1675 concerning Samuel Watson of Knight Stainforth Hall and the building of the bridge. Samuel Watson, a renowned local Quaker, owned nearby Knight Stainforth Hall, which dates from 1672, though there had been a manor on the spot from the 14th century or earlier (Asher, NCHTJ, 2009). The current roadway measures 2.2m between parapets in the centre and 2.5m at the springing.

Although it is said (www.engineering-timelines.com) that a stone bridge replaced a timber structure that took the place of a ford (the name Stainforth means ‘stony ford’ ) the evidence for a wooden bridge is not stated. A ford however is very probable. Furthermore the statement in this source that the stone bridge is a packhorse bridge is similarly questionable. Animals carrying large packs of goods on both sides would be hindered by parapet walls on narrow bridges; a packhorse bridge normally had no side walls; the bridge over Thorns Gill at Ribblehead is the best local example. The 1675 stone bridge is specifically wide enough for carts to pass. The deed of covenant does not state that the bridge was rebuilt. Rather it says ‘for the future, or oblige them their heirs or Assignes upon any account whatsoever to rebuilding of the s(ai)d bridge If need bee ’

The present side walls are very thin and prone to damage, so perhaps have been mended many times. In 1931 the bridge linking the two halves of Stainforth was gifted by the Maudsley family to the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments. A locally raised endowment of 250 towards its upkeep was required before the Society accepted the gift. Until then, the owner of Knight Stainforth Hall had repaired the bridge, though it remained a public right of way. The bridge was later transferred into the care of the National Trust.

North Yorkshire County Record Office ZXF 1/6 317

Know all men by these presents that whereas I Samuel Watson of Knight Stainforth in the Countye of Yorke Gent. for good causes moveinge mee, thereunto have in my own na(me) and proper Charge / (with the assistance of others) caused a sufficient Stone Bridge to be built over the River Ribble at the North end of one parcell of ground now in my possession com(m)only call(e)d & known by the name of Fossparke over ag(ain)st a parcell of ground of Willi(am) Swainson, part of which I have purchased for a way concerninge the said Bridge which is not onely usefull & leading betwixt the Towns of Knight Stainforth & Stainforth under bargh but for the rest of the Countrey as need shall require. Haveing received the sum(m)e of 30s of curant English money as a free gratuity to the charge of the said Bridge of James Foster, Thomas Craven, Richard Armitstead & Richard Iveson of Stainforth under bargh in the fores(ai)d County Tradesmen for the which sum(m)e I acquit & discharge the said James Thomas Richard Armit(stead) & Richard Iveson, theire heires Execut(or)s Admin(istrator)s & every of them by these presents, upon which considera(c)on aforesaid know yee that I the said Samuell Watson doe by these present(s) for myselfe my heirs Execut(or)s & Adm(inistrator)s fully, freely & absolutely Covenant (&)grant by these presents that it shall & may bee lawfull for the saide James Foster Tho: Craven Richard Armitstead & Rich: Iveson theire heirs Execut(or)s Admi(nistrator)s & Assignes, family or families unto them belonginge, to have free libertye from time to time, hencforth & forever, as they or any of them has occasion to passe with cart or carrage, wheather on foot or horseback, or by any other passage for Cattle or the like over the s(ai)d Bridge as the way is now set out leading betwixt the said Towns with full and free egress & regress, for them the said James & the rest above mentioned, and these that aper(t)aine unto him as heretofore recyted without any disturbance or denyall of him the said Samuell Watson his heirs or Assignes or any other persons by from or under him or them from the date of these presents & for ever hereafter provided alwayes, & it is agreed upon by the said Samuel for him his heirs & Assignes that what the s(ai)d James Foster & the other three now hath done as a gratuity to ye s(ai)d bridge shall not bee any preseiden (precedent) for the future, or oblige them their heirs or Assignes upon any account whatsoever to rebuilding of the s(ai)d bridge If need bee, noe more neither further but as he or they shall be induced thereunto of their voluntary disposistion & good neighberhood; In Witness whereof I the said Mr. Samuel Watson have hereunto set my hand & seal the last daye of May 1675:

Sealed Signed and deliv(er)ed                  Samuel Watson
in the presence of us
Roger: Dawson
James (Spal)ton

Knight Stainforth Bridge is pictured on the cover of this Journal

StainforthBridge.JPG
Before the repair
repair.jpg
During the repair



StainforthBridge.JPG
Before the repair


repair.jpg
During the repair