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No longer in use, Cromwell’s Bridge once carried a packhorse trail over the River Hodder, about a mile from its confluence with the Ribble. It earned its name after Oliver Cromwell’s parliamentary army crossed the bridge on their way from Gisburn to where they fought the King’s men in the Battle of Preston.
This is the lowest crossing point of the Hodder and it seems an earlier bridge preceeded this one. The “Brig of Hoder” is referred to in a judgement by Richard Sherburne in 1430. That bridge was damaged by floods. It was a later Sir Richard Sherburne, presumably a descendant, who provided the stone and paid the masons to build Cromwell’s Bridge, as it was later to be known.
The connection with Cromwell dates from 16th August 1648, when his 8,000-strong army passed over it. The Battle of Preston took place on the following day — the Royalists were routed. In a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Cromwell states that they held a council of war at the bridge, though he misidentifies it as “Hodder Bridge over Ribble”.
This crossing point is still used today — Cromwell’s Bridge has been replaced by the Lower Hodder Bridge of 1819, which is a little upstream of this site.
Cromwell’s Bridge has three segmental circular arches. It was a little over 2m wide and had low parapets so as not to impede the progress of packhorses with large panniers crossing it.