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Creek Bridge

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Creek Bridge 
     Barge entering Faversham Creek's basin through the bridge c1895

The head of Faversham Creek is spanned by a road bridge that joins Brent Road west of the creek to North Lane on its east side.

 

It was not until 1798 that the first Faversham creek bridge, and sluice, on the site of the present one was installed. It was built by the Board of Ordnance, whose Home Gunpowder Works stretched from just north of Ospringe Street to the head of the Creek.

Thus two birds were killed with one stone. If the sluice gates were closed at high tide, vessels serving the Works could berth close to ground level in a newly-created basin; if there were no vessels in the basin, the sluice-gates could be opened to flush out silt from the lower reaches of the Creek.

The Works was at its busiest during the Napoleonic Wars, and so the new arrangement could not have come too soon. The bridge was probably of wood, and it is not clear whether it was lifted, swung or slid out of the way when vessels needed to reach the basin.

It was only a footbridge, but for pedestrians made access to and from Davington easier from the Abbey Street area. Perhaps because of this, Faversham Borough Council contributed £400 to the cost - the equivalent of about £12,000. Till 1833 the Board of Ordnance was responsible for maintenance of both bridge and sluice, but in that year, after being paid £800 by the Board, the Borough Council became responsible.

In 1843, as part of the major Creek improvement programme, the new Faversham Navigation Commission replaced the bridge with a substantial iron one, and also rebuilt the sluice. It was still only a footbridge, described as “working on the sliding principle, worked by a windlass and weighted at one end to preserve its balance”.

By now development had started on The Brents and while the new bridge must have soon become busy the lack of direct vehicular connection must have been  inconvenient. This lack was remedied in 1878 when the present hydraulically-operated vehicular swing bridge was installed. 
The £1,500 cost was shared equally between the Navigation Commission, the Faversham Pavement Commission (a body later integrated with the Borough Council) and land-owners on the Preston (Brents) bank.

The Navigation Commission kept the bridge in structural repair. In 1917, when the possibility of damage by enemy action loomed, and it was not entirely clear who was legally responsible for maintaining or, if need be, reinstating the bridge, the Navigation Commission, Borough Council and Faversham Rural District Council (then the highway authority for The Brents) clubbed together to seek Counsel’s Opinion on the matter, each agreeing to accept the Opinion, whatever it should be.  

On 15 October, 1917, counsel, Gerald F. Hohler, KC, MP, who had been fully briefed about the bridge’s complicated history, gave his opinion that the Navigation Commission was responsible for maintaining the bridge, for reinstating it in the event of damage or destruction by enemy action, and for keeping the highway over it in good repair.    

In 1996 it seems that the Commission’s pledge to accept this Opinion may have been lost sight of by its then ‘heir’, the Medway Ports Authority. When the bridge and sluice were overhauled in that year, the Authority ‘donated’ £23,000 towards the total £43,000 cost, the remainder coming in contributions of £6,000 each from Kent County Council, Swale Council and the Hatch Charity, and £2,000 from the Town Council.