Bridging the centuries

Beth Davies – Building Conservation Officer

We have a new listed building in the National Park! It’s the clapper bridge carrying Ashfield Road/Wandels Lane across Danby Beck near Castleton – and it’s now Grade II listed. It was designated due to three principle reasons – its architecture, its historic interest and its rarity.

The Principles of Selection for Listing Buildings (Department for Culture, Media & Sport 2010) sets out how the Secretary of State determines whether a building or structure is of special architectural or historic interest and therefore merits listing. This states that most buildings and structures pre-dating 1840 should be listed. Historic England’s Listing Selection Guide for Transport Buildings (2011) notes that most pre-1840 bridges, where substantially intact, warrant serious consideration for listing.

Architecture – The earliest form of bridge typically surviving in use is the clapper bridge – large stone slabs spanning between boulders or abutments, built out of undressed stone. This example crossing Danby Beck is an interesting development of this most basic form in that it has carefully constructed abutments and piers using dressed stone. The herring-bone tooling indicates that the abutments date from the mid-C18 to the C19. The lack of masonry parapets and the general simplicity of the construction contributes to the interest.

Historic Interest – The absence of arches and the re-use of large slabs in their stead strongly suggest that this was a rebuilding of a medieval clapper bridge on the route between Castleton village and Howe Mill. The rebuilding was most likely in circa 1807 when the mill was extensively rebuilt and required improved access. All this contributes to the interest of the bridge.

Rarity – Clapper bridges are relatively rare nationally, especially multi-spanned examples carrying roads.

Clapper bridge carrying Ashfield Road/Wandels Lane across Danby Beck - copyright NYMNPA

The bridge has been adapted over time and still remains functional. The fact that the bridge was strengthened in 2006 by overlaying it with a reinforced concrete deck carrying the road surface does not significantly undermine its claim to special interest –the listing details note that the concrete and road surface are currently neither of special architectural nor historic interest.

The listing means the bridge is protected for the future in that any planned changes to its structure will need listed building consent which will ensure that the bridge’s special interest is conserved.

3 thoughts on “Bridging the centuries

  1. There’s a similar structure along the road from Goathland Rd to Hunthouse, although I didn’t look to see what originally supported the now tarmac road surface.

  2. Many thanks for your interest and feedback, David. I’m aware of a clapper bridge on the road between Julian Park and Hollins Farm but not of one on the Hunt House track. Next time I’m out that way I’ll have a look.

    Beth

  3. Pingback: A to Z: a horde of Hs | The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

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