Axmouth Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020419

Date first listed: 19-Dec-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Apr-2002


Ordnance survey map of Axmouth Bridge
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2019 at 12:18:04.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: East Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Axmouth

National Grid Reference: SY 25302 89983


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Multi-span bridges are structures of two are more arches supported on piers. Such bridges were constructed by carpenters or stone masons throughout the medieval period but increasingly, from the beginning of the 18th century, professional engineers were involved in bridge design and by 1800 bridge building was almost exclusively the work of the engineer. These engineers developed techniques for bridge construction using different designs and materials. Cast iron became popular for bridges in Britain in the early 19th century, a time which also saw the development of mass concrete construction pioneered in France by Cointeraux and later, by Lebrun. Mass concrete does not employ the metal rods of reinforced or prestressed concrete and, when used for bridges, relies on radial compression, the weight being distributed outwards to the piers and abutments. In England the technique was not as well favoured as in France but in 1835 mass concrete was used in the foundations of bridges on the Greenwich railway and in sea walls and dry docks in Chatham and Woolwich. Philip Bannon, who designed Axmouth Bridge, was an innovative engineer who was familiar with both massed and reinforced methods of construction in concrete. Axmouth Bridge is believed to have been the third concrete bridge to have been built in England and, as the two earlier examples have been demolished, it now stands as the earliest and best example of a mass concrete bridge to survive in the country. The bridge displays extensive outward signs of the rustication which was employed to give it the appearance of a stone bridge and it retains design elements which are informative about a technique, that of building in mass concrete, which only rarely survives in bridge construction.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes Axmouth Bridge, a Victorian bridge constructed of concrete and spanning the River Axe on the eastern side of Seaton at Axmouth Harbour. It is Listed Grade II*. Axmouth Bridge, which is sometimes known as Seaton Road Bridge and, more rarely, as Brannon's Bridge, originally opened as a toll bridge. However, the toll was abolished in 1907 after which the bridge remained in use for vehicle traffic until the mid-1980s when it was superseded by a modern bridge located just to its north. Designed by the civil engineer Philip Brannon and constructed in massed concrete, the bridge comprises three segmental arches supported on four brick and concrete supports. The central arch has a span of 17m whilst the outer two have a span of 10m. Mass concrete construction involved the pre-fabrication of the concrete sections, the whole then being laid so as to form radial yet interlocking masses. Although of concrete construction, much was done to give the impression of a stone structure including the provision of simulated joints, and the employment of false ashlar, imitation voussoirs, and rusticated piers. The parapet is decorated with latticework, again in concrete, whilst the twin cutwaters of the bridge are of brick construction. The total length of the bridge inclusive of its abutments is 53m, and it is about 9m wide. A considerable amount of information is known about Philip Brannon who was born on the Isle of Wight in 1817 and who died in 1890. He was a pioneer in the use of concrete and details of his principles of construction, including an account of the bridge at Axmouth Harbour, were published in the architectural journal, The Arcustat in 1879. During the early years of World War II Axmouth Bridge was defended as part of the anti-invasion defences of the Taunton Stop Line. A pillbox located above the east bank of the river covered its approaches. The bridge itself was prepared for demolition in the event of an enemy landing further to the west. The Taunton Stop Line comprised a series of defensive positions, including lines of pillboxes and anti-tank emplacements, which were strung across the countryside from the mouth of the Axe to the Bristol Channel. The Stop Line was designed to frustrate and delay any German invasion force from making a rapid advance on London assuming a landing somewhere in the far South West. The modern brick paving of the foot carriageway across the bridge, the modern anti-vehicle bollards, and the mounted lamp posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the bridge fabric below all of these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 33042

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Dobinson, C, 'Anti-invasion Defences of WWII' in Twentieth Century Fortifications in England, , Vol. II, (1996), 100
Markwick, A T, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in Brannon's Bridge at Axmouth, (1988), 153-56
Markwick, A T, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in Brannon's Bridge at Axmouth, (1988), 155

End of official listing