Holt Fleet Bridge, also known as the Holt Bridge, carries the A4133 over the River Severn near the village of Holt. It is a fine example of cast iron engineering that was used by Thomas Telford on several bridges he constructed during the Georgian era. Holt Fleet Bridge is unusual in that it can be viewed from an adjacent beer garden.
|Maintained by||Worcestershire County Council|
Paid car park
What is the best way to enjoy the Holt Fleet Bridge?
The only practical place to park is in the car park of The Holt Fleet pub, which is located next to the bridge. Head onto the A4133 and walk onto the bridge where you will get fine views of the River Severn and the Holt Lock upstream. Here you can inspect the cast iron railing and the stone piers, two of which contain a commemorative plaque.
Walk across the bridge and take great care, the A4133 is a busy road, vehicles fly past, and the pavement is very narrow. As you approach the northern bank of the Severn, you will see a public footpath sign on the left pointing to stairs that lead down to the bank. Follow it and you will have a close-up view of the red sandstone arched abutments.
This viewpoint also gives you a chance to see the detailed ironwork close-up and the underside of the reinforced concrete road.
Here you have the option of walking along the northern bank to Holt Lock upstream. If you feel you have finished your tour, head back over the bridge to The Holt Fleet pub, it has a delightful beer garden where you can enjoy a refreshing beverage overlooking the Severn and the Holt Bridge.
How long does it take to see the Holt Fleet Bridge?
It will take you roughly 20 minutes to see the bridge, which includes walking across to both banks. If you decide to stop at The Holt Fleet pub for a drink or food, you can easily extend your stay. You also have the option of walking up to the Holt Lock on the northern bank of the River Severn.
How do I get to the Holt Fleet Bridge?
Holt Fleet is a fairly remote location so it’s best to travel by car or taxi. There is no public parking and the A4133 is not suitable for leaving a vehicle. It’s best to park your car in The Holt Fleet pub next to the bridge. The car park is for customers only; however, it’s worth grabbing a drink and sitting in the riverside beer garden after your visit.
History of Holt Fleet Bridge
1826 – Construction begins, Telford’s design is similar to those used on the Mythe Bridge and Galton Bridge, which were built at the same time. The iron was cast by William Hazeldine of Shrewsbury. The construction materials were probably floated down the River Severn.
1828 – The bridge is opened on New Year’s Day. It cost £8,300 (£923,000 in 2020), which was £200 under the estimate .
1928 – The bridge was extensively strengthened by encasing the upper and lower edges of the arch ribs in reinforced concrete extending across the whole width of the bridge. Also, one of each pair of spandrel struts was also encased in concrete. A new reinforced concrete deck was cast on new cross beams and the roadway was widened by cantilevering out over the sides of the old arch . Here is a photo of the bridge in 1906 that details what it looked like before these repairs were carried out.
1937 – The Holt Fleet Hotel is rebuilt, which became the pub that exists today. The original hotel dates back to the 19th century and was a popular stop for Victorian riverside cruises .
1940s – The bridge was mined so that it could be blown up quickly in the event of a German invasion from Wales. Anti-tank posts were also erected .
1951 – The bridge is listed as a Grade II structure .
2009 – The bridge receives a 7.5 tonne weight restriction following an inspection that prompted concerns about the safety of the structure .
2012 – Another series of repairs is completed to the concrete and parapets, which includes replacing some of the sandstone to the wing walls and painting the entire bridge. The repairs cost £1.1 million (£1.33 million in 2021), took 36 weeks, and resulted in the weight restriction being lifted upon completion .
2019 – The efficacy of the bridge is brought into question after a lorry carrying 5,000 chickens crashes into a fence of a house after losing control coming off the Holt Fleet Bridge. This followed an incident where a pedestrian received a hairline fracture to his skull after being clipped by the wing mirror of a passing car .
Architecture and dimensions
The bridge consists of a single span arch measuring 150 ft (45.72 m). As originally built, the arch was made up of five cast-iron ribs, each 3 ft 2 in. deep, made in seven segments with Telford’s familiar open X web. The deck is supported from the arch by cast-iron struts inclined to the vertical and arranged in intersecting pairs in the form of an X.
These struts are cross-connected at the point of intersection by tie rods with distance pieces. They are secured by mortise and tenon joints with cast-iron wedges. At deck level, cast-iron beams 6 inches deep and 2 inches wide carried the deck plates and the roadway. The massive red sandstone abutments of the bridge are pierced on both sides of the river by flood arches .
The abutments terminate each side in an angled wall which sweeps down and out from the roadway and is stopped by square piers with pyramidal capping. Cast iron railings with dog rails run the full length of the bridge, interrupted by concrete piers at each end .
- (1828) ‘Holt Fleet Bridge’, Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, 11 January, p. 3.
- B. C. Hammond (1934) ‘The Strengthening of a Cast-Iron Bridge by Welded Steel Bars Encased in Concrete; The Holt Fleet Bridge Near Worcester’, Selected Engineering Papers, Vol. 1 No. 162. London: The Institution of Civil Engineers.
- The Holt Fleet Pub (2020) Welcome to The Holt Fleet. Available at: https://www.theholtfleet.co.uk/ (Accessed: 6 April 2021).
- BBC Hereford & Worcester (2009) ‘Holt Fleet Bridge: a Telford masterpiece’, BBC, 28 April. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/herefordandworcester/content/articles/2009/04/28/holt_fleet_bridge_feature.shtml (Accessed: 6 April 2021).
- Purton, M. (2019) ‘Holt Fleet Bridge ‘not fit for purpose’ say motorists after lorry crash’, Worcester News, 27 August. Available at: https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/17862028.holt-fleet-bridge-not-fit-purpose-say-motorists-lorry-crash/ (Accessed: 6 April 2021).
- Cragg, R. (1997) Civil Engineering Heritage Wales and West Central England. London: Thomas Telford Publishing.
- Historic England (2021) Holt Fleet Bridge. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1301888(Accessed: 6 April 2021).
- (2009) ‘Traffic fears as bridge shut to lorries’, Express & Star, 29 April. Available at: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/2009/04/29/traffic-fears-as-bridge-shut-to-lorries/ (Accessed: 6 April 2021).
- VolkerLaser (2012) Holt Fleet Bridge. Available at: https://www.volkerlaser.co.uk/en/case-studies/detail/holt-fleet-bridge (Accessed: 6 April 2021).