Stonepits Bridge and Drainage

From the track crossing Stonepits Bridge can be seen the complex drainage arrangements in this part of the Frome Valley. (For sources, see end of page.)

Stonepits Bridge

Stonepits Bridge pre 1955 (Mike Mills)
Stonepits Bridge pre 1955 (Mike Mills)
Stonepits Bridge pre 1955 (Mike Mills)
Stonepits Bridge pre 1955 (Mike Mills)

Now often spelt with a double t, this bridge takes its name from the field to the east where stone was extracted in the past. It carries an ancient track across the valley from Whitminster to Frampton on Severn, and it also gives access to the low lying fields that were associated with Kidnams Farm in the village of Whitminster. 

The original hump back bridge was replaced by concrete pipes in 1955. The present restoration project is planning to replace these pipes with a lift bridge.

Valley Drainage

Lockham Bridge and local drainage
Lockham Bridge and local drainage
Lockham Bridge and local drainage
Lockham Bridge and local drainage

The construction of the Stroudwater Canal added an extra complication to the complex drainage arrangements in the Frome valley. The river itself was highly embanked on its way to Whitminster Mill, leaving the low lying fields to be drained by ditches locally called rhines (pronounced reens). 

The main rhine passed through a culvert under the embanked river adjoining Lockham Bridge which carried an ancient track across the valley over the river. When the Stroudwater Canal was built, it crossed the river at what was called an aqueduct and further north it also crossed over the rhine. The track passes the remains of a small Second World War pillbox, where the sound of water trickling over a nearby canal spill weir can often be heard.

Later Changes

Sluice beside slope up to Lockham Bridge
Sluice beside slope up to Lockham Bridge
Sluice beside slope up to Lockham Bridge
Sluice beside slope up to Lockham Bridge
 In the early 1970s, a major flood alleviation scheme raised the river banks and Lockham Bridge, giving a remarkable difference in height between the bridge and the adjoining rhine. Also a sluice was installed at the entrance to the rhine culvert to stop the flow if any maintenance is required.

At the same time, the aqueduct was cleared away to give the river a smoother path, and a length of the canal was filled in. A consequence of this is that towpath walkers currently need to make a short diversion along the track to cross the river via Lockham Bridge.

Sources

For replacement of original bridge, see D1180/acc12710/box5/6, 25 May 1955.
For flood alleviation scheme, see D1180/9/56 and K2017
 

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