(1) THE RECONSTRUCTION OF DEPTFORD
A transcript of the original contract of 1789, with some illustrative
extracts from the Minute Books of the New Cross Turnpike Trust.
DEPTFORD Bridge over the River Ravensborne carries the great highway
into Kent from London to Dover; its importance is therefore obvious, but
unfortunately it is situated in two counties., Surrey and Kent, Kent
that is, before the inclusion of the north western portion in the
administrative area of the London County Council. Normally all such
bridges are the responsibility of the County but here divided ownership
opened the door to evasion, and the Road Trust found itself saddled with
the cost of upkeep and maintenance. The following extracts from the
Minutes of the Trust tell the main outlines of the story.
1787. June 30th. Deptford Bridge is reported damaged and in
need of immediate attention. It is maintained that it is
County Bridge and an examination and report is to be made to the Quarter
Sessions. Meanwhile the Trust will carry out temporary repairs.
1788. Mar. 20th. It is reported to the Trust that the
Bridge is NOT a County Bridge. An enquiry is ordered.
1788. Apr. 27th. Legal opinion is to be obtained as to the
status of the Bridge as the Trust had previously widened it and kept it
in order and thereby assumed responsibility. Richard Martyr a local
surveyor was asked to make a survey of the Bridge and give an estimate
for its thorough repair.
1788. May 31st. Martyrís estimate was approximately £200
for repair Widening was to be further considered.
1788. June 28th. The estimate for widening the bridge by
six feet was £500 exclusive of any excavation work. The Trustees were
anxious to know whether this meant they were to maintain the bridge in
1788. July 26th. John Corbett a local builder was asked for
his opinion and estimate for work, specifications of which were given.