|ALCESTER was well served, and still is with its crossings over the river Arrow. Gunnings Bridge was noticed in the last issue and was seen to derive from the 13th century at least and to have been the concern of the manor of Alcester. Oversley Bridge, by the 17th century, was regarded as a 'county bridge by Quarter Sessions and thus the concern of all county ratepayers. Our first documentary evidence comes from the mid 16th century but how much older than that it was we do not know.|
Originally, the 'Salt Way', or Roman road from Stratford through Alcester, would have crossed the Arrow at this point - or a few yards away - by means of a ford. This stone bridge connected the parishes and manors of Alcester and Oversley as well as the ecclesiastical parishes of Alcester and Arrow: it carried the Stratford road from Alcester.
THE TURNPIKING of the Stratford-Alcester road in 1753 presented the trustees with no problems on entering Alcester, for here was a stone bridge at Oversley to carry coaches over the river. For a year or two the Trust relied on a toll house on the Oversley side of the bridge Perhaps this was not a good idea, for the low-lying land around Oversley Green was subject to frequent flooding and may have been the reason that the toll gate was transferred to 'Hoo Mill corner. No remains of the Oversley toll house are visible today.
IN 1659 Oversley bridge was the worse for wear: there no indications that either side in the Civil Wars had damaged the bridge (as happened at Bidford Bridge) but Quarter Sessions tried to raise £120, a not inconsiderable sum. This, and work in the 1670s, seems to have preserved Oversley bridge for future generations.
IN THE 1960s a by-pass of Oversley Green resulted in much less pressure of traffic on the bridge, which today stands as one of Alcester's historic and much-loved buildings.
Autumn 1991 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1991