This is another post in my occasional series: The Knackered Old Bridges of the West Midlands.
The strange roundabout of our winter weather delivered an unexpectedly fine and sunny day today, so after breakfasting on chocolate panettone (which I heartily recommend), R and I went off to take a brisk but enjoyable walk around the southern end of the river at Croome. If I’d been quicker I might have captured the joyous abandon with which a flat-coated retriever hurtled down the hill (ignoring a string of increasingly desperate commands from his pursuing owners), swept past us, threw himself into the water, turned around, and flung himself back up the slope to tell them what a fabulous day it was for a swim – but by the time I’d adjusted the zoom he was gone, so I’ll have to ask you to imagine the scene, which had us both in tucks.
On the way back through Pershore, R pulled into the little car park between the main road bridge over the Avon and the old packhorse bridge, so that I could see if it was an interesting subject for a photo. According to an information board there has been a crossing point here for the best part of a millennium, but this bridge was built in 1431 by the monks of Pershore Abbey, after their abbot was drowned while trying to cross an earlier, ruined structure. In June 1644, in the middle of the English Civil War, Charles I was being pursued across the Midlands by Parliamentarian forces under William Waller, and as he passed through Pershore ordered that the bridge should be destroyed to hamper the pursuit; the work was apparently carried out in such haste that forty men fell into the Avon and died, but the King escaped to Worcester. The bridge was rebuilt the following year, creating the extraordinary patchwork of stone that you can see here; it remained in use until the 1920s, when the demands of modern vehicles created a need for the wider New Bridge to be built a few yards away.
In the summer I will come back to this bridge, and the little park associated with it, and take a longer look at this part of Pershore, which is a town that always seems to repay attention.