Historic liftbridges on the Oxford Canal to be repaired

Bridge 231 on the Oxford

Bridge 231 on the Oxford - Credit: Martin Ludgate

The work on the bridges, built by renowned engineer James Brindley, will last three years


Six of the Grade II listed black and white timber liftbridges, a characteristic feature of the southern Oxford, are to be given a facelift in a £1m project.

The restoration, being undertaken by the Canal & River Trust, started with Chisnell Liftbridge (no. 193) near Anyho and involved repairs to the brick and stonework, rebuilding walls and work to fill the numerous holes and voids.


The other bridges to be repaired over the next three years include:

- Drinkwaters Liftbridge (No. 231) and Wolvercote Liftbridge (233)

- Shipton Liftbridge (219) near Shipton on Cherwell

- Caravan Liftbridge (215) near Enslow

- Haddons Liftbridge (173) near Banbury

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The liftbridges were used by engineer James Brindley’s successor Samuel Simcock as a cheaper alternative to the more traditional brick arch bridge after the canal company ran short of money.

“These bridges have a fascinating story behind them and, while they may not be as the engineers originally intended, they are unique to this particular canal. The original canal builders set out with grand designs but unfortunately they ran out of money and had to change their plans,” said CRT’s Charles Baker.

“It’s a classic tale of making-do and as a result they used a combination of brick, stone and oak which hasn’t aged as well as the more traditional brick arch bridge.”


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