Magdalene Bridge, Cambridge
The famous Magdalene Bridge in Cambridge stands on the spot of the very first crossing point over the river Cam, which was made over 1,200 years ago. The original bridge on the site, known as The Great Bridge (and was later replaced by the Magdalene Bridge that we see today), is believed to have been built by King Offa, in between 756-793AD. This bridge gave Cambridge an excellent trading link, establishing the towns prosperous market links to the Continent. For the duration of its existence, the Magdalene Bridge has been an essential asset for river trade and travel, being the last river crossing until Kings Lynn. During the medieval period another waterway, called the King's Ditch, was dug as a defensive trench and discharged into the river Cam (though the townsfolk ended up using this as an easy rubbish dump).
In 1388 a statute was created which stated that all 'dung, filth, garbage and entrails, dead beasts and other corruptions' should be removed from the Kings Ditch, and that it should be cleaned. Over a century later, in 1502, three College professors were given fines by the Town Court, as their toilets hung over the Kings Ditch, thereby fouling it.
Magdalene Bridge was named after the nearby Magdalene College, and was originally a stone bridge, designed by James Essex and built in 1756 near the site of the old Roman fort, which dates all the way back to 40AD. The bridge, as we see it today, is the oldest cast-iron bridge in the city, which was rebuilt to a Gothic revival design by Arthur Browne in 1982.
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