Maidenhead Bridge, A4 Bath Road
Note that this gauge is bypassed by the Jubilee River
CUMECS (Cubic Metres per second) (More or less Tons per second)
The "Q" figures are percentile excedance:
q95% is the low level (exceeded 95% of the time) - below this is drought
q50% is the flow exceeded 50% of the time - note this is lower than -
Mean - the average flow (greater that q50% because of the very high flood flows)
q10% is the high figure (exceeded only 10% of the time) - above this is flood
Maidenhead Waterways Restoration Group - restoring old channels in Maidenhead. (Click 'Maps' below and then 'Old OS Maps' to see many of the channels referred to)
1910: Maidenhead in Thames Villages by Charles Harper.
Maidenhead Bridge was “almost broke down” – so clearly dates from long before that.
1337: Pontage (toll on water traffic) grant for 6 years.
1367: Watermen complaining about pontage. Fred Thacker comments -
It has always seemed to me one of the minor ironies of our planet that water traffic should be compelled to contribute towards the maintenance of obstructions to its conduct.
1400: Repairs under the supervision of the Prior of Bisham
divers lieges of the King cannot cross without peril at certain times of the year through floods and the weakness of the bridge.
1530: Leland –
Maidenhead Bridge of Tymbre. Ther is great warfeage of Timbre and fier wood on the west end of the bridge, & this wood cummith out of Barkshir
1557: Part of petition quoted in Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames, 1885 -
... the seid toun of Maydenhedd is scituat in a loo contree, and very nere adjoynynge to the ryver Thamys, so that the seid contre is, dyvers tymes in the yere, so surrounded and overflowen with water that yr. Highnes seid subjects cannot passe goe nor travell to their seid churches ...
1577: Argument as to whether the whole river or just to the centre line belonged to Bray:
set of witnesses asserted that the Taplow parish procession (“walking the
bounds”) proceeded to the middle of the bridge “and that there was a gospell
said there by the curate of Taplow”.
This was not denied; however it was asserted that the Bray procession always “came over Maidenhed Bridge to the farther post of the same on Bucksyde”.
[What a pity their Saints’ Days did not coincide. Clearly a judgement of Solomon was called for. ]
1699: Ogilby’s Travellers’ Guide –
Maidenhead has a Key to which barges come from London
1714: The bridge had become ruinous and dangerous.
1772: Act for a new bridge passed.
1776: P. Oliver’s MS, Notes of Tours in Engand –
A long wooden bridge, with a privilege annex’d to it of cutting 3
trees annually from the King’s forest to repair it.
But a Rod or two above it, upstream, is now building a very grand free stone bridge of thirteen arches in imitation of Westminster bridge, which will have a striking effect, and it is said will cost £25,000”.
Architect Sir Robert Taylor.
London: To Thirty Miles Extent, from an Actual Perambulation By David Hughson, 1808 -
The stone bridge over the river Thames, with thirteen arches, six
brick and seven stone, was begun in 1772, and cost upwards
of £20,000: the architect was Sir Robert Taylor ; it was originally
This town, now so considerable, did not begin to flourish, till, by the building of its bridge, travellers were brought this way, who before used a ferry at that time called Babham's End, two miles north of it.
The barge pier bridge is maintained by the corporation, for which they are allowed the tolls both over and under it. The barge pier divides Berks from Bucks. There is a great trade here in malt, meal, and timber, which they carry in their barges to London. As this is the great thoroughfare from thence to Bath, Bristol, and other southwest parts of England, the adjacent wood or thicket has been noted for many robberies.
1792: The new Maidenhead Bridge, Samuel Ireland -
The handsome bridge at Maidenhead was
constructed from a design of the late Sir Robert
Taylor, and is a work of much merit. It is of
stone, and consists of seven large semi-circular
arches, with three smaller ones of brick at
each end. It has been finished about nine
years, at an expence of nineteen thousand
pounds, independent of the purchase of lands
contiguous, to render the work compleat.
Below the bridge, on a retrospective view, the hills of Taplow and Cliefden aid the landscape considerably, and render the scenery more picturesque and beautiful than any thing that has yet occurred. From this point the annexed view was taken.
1792: Maidenhead Bridge, Samuel Ireland
1800: The new Maidenhead Bridge -
Maidenhead Bridge, c 1800
[ I think this is a typical example of an artist drawing what he thought he saw rather than what actually was before his eyes. (Of course maybe artists always have to do that - but to my mind there is gross distortion here) I cannot think that the bridge has changed so significantly with such a gradient to the centre, and the side arches being so much smaller. However the same 'distortion' if that is what it is, is shown in the 1859 woodcut for Mr & Mrs Hall. But the photos of 1880 and 1899 show a much flatter bridge - ]
1811: The Thames -
Maidenhead Bridge, 1811
Maidenhead bridge is a handsome structure of Portland stone,
consisting of seven principal and six lesser arches, and was built after a design of Sir Robert Taylor.
In passing over it the Thames presents two such different views, that the eye can scarce be brought to reconcile the contrasted appearance.
To the north is seen the bold range of woody heights, crowned with Taplow, Cliefden, and Hedsor; while to the south the river flows through one unvaried, uninteresting level, enlivened with no other objects than the summer buildings on Monkey Island, and the tower of Bray church.
The English Counties Delineated by Thomas Moule -
The bridge, of thirteen arches altogether, over the Thames, was erected in 1772,
from designs by Sir Robert Taylor, at an expense of £20,000.
The barge pier of the bridge is maintained by the Corporation, for which they receive toll ...
From the ten aldermen two bridge-masters are annually chosen.
1832: June, the Sporting Magazine -
GRAND ROWING MATCH BETWEEN ETON AND WESTMINSTER.
... a match between eight Gentlemen of Eton College and eight of Westminster took place at Maidenhead.
Towards the afternoon thousands of people, including a phalanx of beauty from the surrounding neighbourhood, as far as London and Oxford, arrived at the scene of action, and about half-past four the town and banks of the River were crowded with anxious spectators.
The Etonians left Windsor in barouches-and-four, chaises, gigs, &c.; and every species of vehicle within a few miles of the town was hired for the occasion. Upon their arrival at the Orkney Arms they were enthusiastically cheered. The Westminsters had arrived two hours before them.
They immediately manned their boats and proceeded to the starting post. The Etonians having won the toss, took their station on the Eton side of the River. They were dressed in blue-striped cotton jerseys, with cape to match, and white trowsers. The Westminsters occupied a similar station on the opposite side of the River, dressed in plain white shirts.
As the Westminster crew had been practising together for three months, and the Etonians had begun rowing only a week before, also from the superior size and supposed strength of the former, it was generally thought that the match would be won easily by them, and some odds as high as 10 to 1 were offered upon the event.
Upon the firing of a gun the two boats started from the buoy below Maidenhead Bridge, to row to a flag-post placed in the River below Monkey Island, and back, altogether a distance of seven miles. From the first stroke of the oars the Eton boat evidently gained, and on turning the buoy was about 100 yards ahead.
It reached Maidenhead Bridge in 35 minutes, winning the match by nearly half a mile. It is difficult to describe the loud and repeated cheers with which they were received on rowing through the arch of the bridge, and indeed all the time they were engaged in the match.
The winning boat (The Britannia, belonging to Hester, water- Man, at Windsor) was built by Honey and Archer ; the other (The Challenge) by Roberts.
It must be remembered that the Westminsters were beat on their own water (at Putney) two years ago. It is to be hoped that they are now convinced of their decided inferiority to the Etonians in the art of rowing, notwithstanding they were "big enough to eat the Eton boy", as the knowing ones among the Westminster watermen sagaciously observed. - It should, however, be taken into account, that a start got at first in the narrow waters is not very easily beaten.
View from Maidenhead Bridge, Tombleson 1836
[ See next picture! ]
1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall
[ See Tombleson's 1836 almost identical "View from Maidenhead Bridge", above ]
Maidenhead is a small town, at some distance from the bridge — a structure of much elegance, built in 1773, from the designs of Sir Robert Taylor. The name is said to be a corruption of that which it bore so early as the reign of Edward III. — Maydenhithe, hithe being the Saxon word for haven or port:
Camden, however, fancifully derives
its title from the veneration paid there to the "head" of a Virgin, one
of the "eleven thousand" whose bones may be now seen at Cologne!
The view from the bridge, both above and below, is very beautiful: on the one side the trees rise from the river-bank to the wooded heights that surround Cliefden; while on the other the pretty islet, the Church of Bray, the bridge of the railroad, the near meadows and distant hills, attract the eye, and tempt the passenger to linger awhile in admiration.
In this district, indeed, are to be found all the several advantages which the noble river so abundantly supplies: a channel of depth sufficient for any required traffic, a populous and flourishing town close at hand, pleasant cottages, comfortable inns, and villas, grand or graceful, scattered at convenient intervals, by the bank-sides, on the slopes of adjacent elevations, or crowning distant hills in the midst of "patrician trees " and "plebeian underwood"; while the heart-cheering turrets of Windsor Castle occasionally come in sight, to add to the interest of the scenery the lessons and the pleasures of association. The land is thus fertile in themes, and the water is hardly less so: the barges, the punts, the gay wherries, the racing-boats are everywhere; and perhaps in no part of the world are there to be obtained enjoyments so many or so full — at once so quiet and so active— as are to be found in this part of the Thames, where the venerable Father leads us to classic Eton and regal Windsor.
William Morris, Putney to Kelmscot -
Hove to on Left bank just above Bray Lock. ... Washed up and started again at 5 o'clock.
Towed into the middle of Maidenhead Regatta.
The 'Ark' was sculled majestically through a crowd of inferior craft and passed under Maidenhead Bridge not without dignity amidst considerable excitement. Hove to above the Bridge whilst Cornell Price (boteler) went to the Post Office for his letters; party still rather flustered owing to the excitement of passing through the Regatta.
Waited half an hour for Price and then started up the lock without him. Left Maidenhead Lock [Boulters] all hands on board.
1885: Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames -
... Although Maidenhead itself has few charms for the visitor, the country about it, more particularly the woods of Cliveden and Hedsor, a short distance up the river on the Bucks side, is charming indeed. Between Maidenhead and Marlow is, perhaps, the best known and the most popular part of the river. And its popularity is well deserved; for whether for the angler, the artist, the oarsman, or the simple tourist; whether for fishing, picnicking, and it has been even whispered "spooning", to say nothing of camping-out, there are few places in England to beat the Cliveden Reach at Maidenhead or Quarry Woods at Marlow. ...
Lantern Slide (1883-1908) - Maidenhead Bridge
Pictures by W.C.Hughes. Thanks to Pat Furley, research by Dr Wilson.
1899: Maidenhead Bridge, Francis Frith -
1899: Maidenhead Bridge, Francis Frith
1906: Mortimer Menpes, Watercolour –
Maidenhead, Mortimer Menpes, 1906
1907: Watercolour –
Vanishing Britain, P H Ditchfield -
The building of bridges was anciently regarded as a charitable and religious act,
and guilds and brotherhoods existed for their maintenance and reparation.
At Maidenhead there was a notable bridge, for the sustenance of which the
Guild of St. Andrew and St. Mary Magdalene was established by Henry VI in 1452.
An early bridge existed here in the thirteenth century, a grant having been made
in 1298 for its repair. A bridge-master was one of the officials of the corporation,
according to the charter granted to the town by James II.
The old bridge was built of wood and supported by piles.
No wonder that people were terrified at the thought of passing over such structures
in dark nights and stormy weather. There was often a bridge-chapel,
as on the old Caversham bridge, wherein they said their prayers,
and perhaps made their wills, before they ventured to cross.
Some towns owe their existence to the making of bridges. It was so at Maidenhead. It was quite a small place, a cluster of cottages, but Camden tells us that after the erection of the bridge the town began to have inns and to be so frequented as to outvie its "neighbouring mother, Bray, a much more ancient place," where the famous "Vicar" lived. The old bridge gave place in 1772 to a grand new one with very graceful arches, which was designed by Sir Roland Taylor.
1929: A Thames Survey -
Maidenhead Bridge, carrying the Bath Road, was built by John Townsend of Oxford to the design
and under the supervision of Sir Robert Taylor (1714-88), who was the architect for stone buildings,
Lincoln's Inn, also the two wings on either side of Sampson's original façade at The Bank of England,
and many buildings in London. Sir Robert Taylor was also a sculptor of some repute and carried out
the sculpture in the pediment at the Mansion House. He founded the Taylorian Institute at Oxford.
The bridge with its approaches are in the County of Berks (Bridge Act, 1772), and it was opened for traffic in 1777, built of stone at a total cost of nearly £19,000.
It is a robust and interesting design, with five arches over the river, very pronounced voussoirs, and surmounted by a stone balustrade.
1955: Maidenhead Bridge, Francis Frith -
1955: Maidenhead Bridge, Francis Frith
2004: Maidenhead Bridge –
Maidenhead Bridge in 2004
Maidenhead Bridge, Doug Myers © 2005
2007: From the Taplow Riverside Conservation Area report, South Bucks District Council
The road bridge, Maidenhead bridge, listed Grade I, was built between 1772 and 1777 by John Townsend of Oxford to the designs of Sir Robert Taylor, the architect of Lincoln’s Inn. With its graceful stone arches and balustrade Pevsner describes it as “Georgian masonry at its best.”
Contractors are set to remove eroded stonework and replace it as part of essential strengthening works.
The repairs will not impact on traffic using the bridge as work will be carried out from barges on the river.
It is expected to last 25 weeks, dependent on weather and river flow, and should maintain the Grade 1 listed structure for future generations.
The first phase to prevent underwater erosion on the main bridge foundation piers was completed [in 2008]
Cllr Colin Rayner, cabinet member for highways and streetcare, said: "If we did not carry out the work we would undoubtedly have had to reduce the 40-tonne weight limit on the bridge which would have had major traffic implications for a great many vehicles."