On June 23 1794,
Robert Baldry and Richard Randall drew up an agreement for the building
of "a new and substantial Bridge of brickwork over the River
or Rivulet dividing the parishes of Ubbeston and Heveningham at
and for the sum of seventy-six pounds". The two men were the
Surveyors of Ubbeston, responsible for the supervision of all buildings
within the village, and Robert Baldry was especially well placed
to oversee this particular work since he had built the present Old
Rectory for his own use eighteen years before (his initials can
still be see on the chimney stack).
The former wooden
bridge over the Blyth, after some years of decay, had finally been
swept away by floods in the winter of 1793-94, thus cutting "the
King's Highway" between Heveningham and Cratfield along what
is now known as the Low Road. The present road forking right to
Huntingfield did not then exist, but it was to Huntingfield that
they turned for advice - it had recently built its own brick bridge
and the design was now copied. Contributions were invited from prominent
members of the community: Sir Joshua Vanneck, as befitted the owner
of Heveningham Hall, offered £10, the two Rectors gave £5
each from the glebe lands and five Ubbeston men and ten from Heveningham
underwrote the rest. It may be noted that two of the Heveningham
men were illiterate and signed with a cross.
were drawn up. The bricklayers? work, including materials, came
to £28 15s 7d. Fourteen thousand red bricks were bought in
Halesworth for £1 7s 6d per thousand and the bricklayers were
paid £1 8s per rod - about 4,500 bricks - for laying them.
They received an additional 2s in the beer money. "Tarras"
mortar was used, a special grade employed for work in contact with
water. The forty-eight coping stones were a special order and cost
1s each, as much as three dozen bricks. Oak supports salvaged from
the old bridge were reused - valuable building material was never
were carefully controlled. Landowners and farmers from the two villages
volunteered their men for so many days? work and were paid accordingly,
a careful division being made between the cost of men employed during
harvest-time and after the harvest was in. Richard Randall charged
3s 6d for "time spent at meetings".
The bridge was
completed on schedule on October 20 and the accounts were authorized.
Then George Simpson, the owner of Ubbeston Hall, had a brainwave
-maybe the then equivalent of the Rivers Authority was liable for
the cost so that everyone could have their money back. He wrote
a hopeful letter to this effect, and was doubtless disappointed
to receive the reply, "My very kindest regards to Mrs Simpson,
but the whole burden of the Bridge must lay upon yourselves".
records in Suffolk County Record Office, Ipswich.
Veronica Baker-Smith, Ubbeston, March 1995