Before the present bridge was constructed over the river Welland in Market Deeping, the crossing into Northamptonshire was further along the Market Place, on the east side of The Deeping Stage (formerly The New Inn).
The old shire bridge consisted of stone piers, with oak planks, posts and rails, but in October 1838, County Surveyors reported at a meeting of Kesteven Sessions, that it was in a state of extreme decay. It was resolved “to erect a new and more commodious bridge for the public, at the expense of the two counties”
In July 1839, tenders were invited from contractors to build the new bridge. First it was necessary to demolish several properties alongside the river, and in June 1840, Stamford Mercury published notice of an auction of “materials of certain houses now about to be taken down to form an approach to the New Bridge over the River Welland: one of the houses has been recently erected.” The auction took place in the Market Place and buyers were to remove all materials within eight days.
The new bridge was completed in less than a year, as another auction was advertised in June 1841, with Lot 1 being “The materials comprised in the Old Bridge over the River Welland at Market Deeping, except the north pier, consisting of oak beams and planking, oak posts, rails etc and the pendal and other stone work of the piers.”
Lot 2 was a piece of building ground adjoining the New Bridge, with space for erecting a house and shop, for a warehouse or coal and raff yard – (raff means imported timber).
If the north pier of the old bridge was left in place against the the river bank, it would be interesting to know if any stonework remains there. Perhaps some of the bridge timbers were re-used and still exist in local properties.
There is also a re-cycling question regarding the present bridge. A story has passed down among local people that the red brick extension on the Deeping Gate side was built using materials from a row of houses which used to stand in the centre of the Market Place. Described as an unsightly pile of buildings, they were demolished to improve the town’s appearance.
An auction was held on 24th September 1846 to sell “All the building materials of the houses situate in the Middle Row, Market Deeping, consisting principally of new stone, bricks, blue and grey slate, shop and sash windows, panel and other doors, floors, joists and timbers, grates, stone chimney-pieces etc”
Handbills describing the lots were circulated at Stamford, Bourne, Peterborough and Spalding, and the auction raised £222.
If bricks from Middle Row were used for the extension, it means that it was added at least five years after the bridge was built. With no attempt made to match the colour of the brickwork to the stone, it does have the appearance of improvisation.