Pulteney Bridge, Bath

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  • sue_stone's Profile Photo

    Shop-Lined Bridge

    by sue_stone Written Sep 20, 2004

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    The Pulteney Bridge is a stone bridge, that crosses the Avon River.

    It is lined with shops on both sides, reminiscent of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

    My favourite shop was a small cafe where you can sit at the window looking directly out over the river.

    Pulteney Bridge
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  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Bridging the Avon

    by toonsarah Updated Mar 15, 2009

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    Pulteney Bridge is one of only four bridges lined with shops in the world. It was designed by Robert Adam in the 1770s to link already fashionable Bath with a planned new suburb to the east, Bathwick. Inspired by the Ponte Vecchio of Florence and Venice’s Ponte di Rialto, Adam planned a Palladian style bridge lined with small shops. Despite concerns that this would prove a bottleneck to traffic (other cities such as London and Bristol had only recently torn down any buildings still remaining on their bridges), the design was accepted by the landowner, William Pulteneny, and the bridge built.

    The true elegance of Adam’s design was short-lived however, as shop owners added extensions, altered windows and raised the roofs. Then in 1800 a storm and resulting flood damaged the north side so badly that it had to be rebuilt. More alterations followed throughout the 19th century, but in the 20th concerns began to be raised about the loss of Adam’s masterpiece and the bridge was scheduled as a national monument in 1936. The City Council bought out all the shops, and despite interruptions caused by the Second World War, the bridge was restored in time for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

    Today the bridge is a charming destination, both for the quaint shops that line its interior, and for the pretty riverside views of its exterior. This shot from the south, incorporating the weir, is one of the classic shots of Bath. While taking it on this occasion I spotted a few café tables on the far side of the bridge and walked across to check them out. I discovered a stone stairway leading through an arch and down to a pathway along the river’s bank, and just where the passage emerged was the small Riverside Café. I bought an espresso and sat for a short while in this sheltered spot to enjoy the river views it afforded (see photo 3). The café also has home-made cakes and hot lunch dishes, which I didn't sample (but everything looked home-made and tasty), and is licensed.

    Pulteney Bridge and weir on the Avon Flower shop on Pulteney Bridge View from Riverside Cafe
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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Pulteney Bridge

    by Dabs Updated Feb 12, 2008

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    As we strolled into Bath from the train station, we headed along Manvers Street north, once you start to see the Abbey, you should start to see one of the prettiest views in Bath, that of the Pulteney Bridge spanning the River Avon. It was built in 1773 and said to be modeled after the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, one of only a few bridges to have shops lining the bridge. It's much prettier from the outside, when you cross it, the bridge looks like an ordinary street with shops.

    The bridge was designed by Robert Adams and built for William Pulteney to connect his land holdings on the other bank of the Avon to central Bath. The Visitbath website says the best view is from the Parade Gardens park by the crescent weir, we were up at street level.

    Bath sits on the River Avon, "avon" means river, it seems kind of silly to have a "River River". And this Avon is a different "River River" than the one in Stratford-upon-Avon, you think they could have given it a unique name.

    Pulteney Bridge (2005) Pulteney Bridge (2008) Pulteney Bridge (2005) Pulteney Bridge (2005) Pulteney Bridge (2005)

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  • jo104's Profile Photo

    Pulteney Bridge over River Avon

    by jo104 Updated Jun 21, 2007

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    The river Avon runs under Pulteney Bridge. This bridge is unique in the fact that it is one of the only bridges that houses shops on it (Florence is another example). The Pulteney Wier can be seen clearly when you cross the bridge & looks very beautiful but also quite vicious. It was built in 1975 to reduce the risk of flooding to central Bath. The Wier looks like 3 steps with water cascading over them at a fast rate causing a strong under current which has trapped even the strongest swimmer.

    So warning - Don't try to swim here!!

    Great photo opportunity

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  • pedersdottir's Profile Photo

    A Bridge of Shops

    by pedersdottir Updated Apr 21, 2004

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    Traffic moves slowly over Pulteney Bridge, crowded as it is with shoppers on both sides jostling for space on the pavement. As a continuation of New Bond Street, the bridge attracts shoppers and diners to the tiny retail establishments overlooking the water.

    Crossing the bridge from town and heading east, the visitor soons comes to another circle of Georgian townhouses at Laura Place. The Austen family spent some time househunting here in early 1801.

    Ribbon of Avon and Romanesque arches
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  • suvanki's Profile Photo

    Pulteney Bridge

    by suvanki Updated Aug 14, 2007

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    Robert Adam, built this stunning bridge in 1773, to span the River Avon.

    The bridge is named after Frances Pulteney, who was the heiress of the Bathwick estate (A rural village, which lay across the river from the city of Bath). Her husband Sir William J Pulteney had plans to create a new town, which could link to Bath by a bridge (rather than by the present ferry crossing)

    Its design was inspired by Florences' Ponte Vecchio and/or Venices Rialto Bridge (Adam had visited Italy previously and had seen these 2 bridges- his design being quite close to that of Andrea Palladios plan for the Rialto bridge (which was declined)-see my Venice Rialto Bridge tip for more info!)

    Adams bridge survived for 20 years, before it was enlarged, then floods in 1799 and 1800 caused damage to the north side of the bridge.

    John Pinch (Snr) rebuilt the bridge in a modified design.
    The bridge has had further restoration work in 1951 and 1975.

    This is one of 4 bridges in the world with shops across the full span!

    Apparently local stories state that the bridge was designed with an old woman in mind - she had washed her face, but forgotten to wipe her ar*e!! - a reference to the bridges pristine front, but shabby behind!!!!

    Pulteney Bridge Bath
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  • annase's Profile Photo

    An architectural symbol of Bath

    by annase Updated Sep 24, 2007

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    Pultney Bridge is one of only four bridges in the world that have been lined by shops on both sides. Shops located on the bridge include a flower shop, an antique map shop, and a juice bar.

    It is named after Frances Pulteney, heiress of the Bathwick estate across the River Avon. At the time, Bathwick was a simple village in a rural setting, but Frances's husband William could see its potential. He made plans to create a new town, which would become a suburb to Bath. Before that he needed a better river crossing than the existing ferry. Hence the bridge.

    Pulteney approached architect Robert Adam who designed the bridge. In his hands the simple construction envisaged by Pulteney became an elegant structure lined with shops. Adam had visited both Florence and Venice, where he would have seen the Ponte Vecchio and the Ponte di Rialto. The bridge was completed in 1773. During its existence the bridge has suffered so many changes that Adam would only recognise the south river front.

    The bridge stood for less than 20 years in its original form. In 1792, alterations to enlarge the shops marred the elegance of the façades. Floods in 1799 and 1800 wrecked the north side of the bridge, which had been constructed with inadequate support. It was rebuilt in a less ambitious version of Adam's design.

    19th-century shopkeepers altered windows, or cantilevered out over the river as the fancy took them. The western end pavilion on the south side was demolished in 1903 for road widening and its replacement was not an exact match.

    The bridge was restorated again in the 50s and 70s, but it could not be returned to its original form. If you step on the so called 'backside' of the bridge, you'll see that it is not very pretty at all.

    Nevertheless, it is now one of the best-known buildings in a city famed for its Georgian architecture. It's a shame though that the bridge is not lighted by night.

    The Pultney Bridge and the weir A flower shop on the Pulteney Bridge The backside of the Pulteney Bridge A shame thePulteney Bridge is not lighted by night
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  • grayfo's Profile Photo

    Pulteney Bridge

    by grayfo Written Mar 10, 2010

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    Named after Frances Pulteney, heiress in 1767 of the Bathwick estate across the river from Bath, Pulteney Bridge is one of only four in the world lined by shops on both sides. The architect Robert Adam favoured a Palladian design, completed in 1774 it stood for less than 20 years in its original state. In 1792 alterations to enlarge the shops spoilt the elegance of the façades. Floods in 1799 and 1800 wrecked the north side of the bridge, which had been constructed with inadequate support. It was rebuilt to a poor version of the original, later having its windows altered by the shopkeepers of the day. The western end pavilion on the south side was demolished in 1903 for road widening and its replacement was not an exact match.

    February 2010

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  • alza's Profile Photo

    What is a weir?

    by alza Updated Jun 16, 2014

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    I can't think of a more pleasant and fascinating view than that of the Crescent Weir in Bath. I arrived in Bath in the morning, from Bristol, and was immediately taken by the views to Pulteney Bridge. I'd left my luggage at the hostel (too early to check in) and set off to explore a bit.

    The hostel is near the train station and a short walk to the Crescent Weir (by Pulteney Bridge), the first thing I saw on leaving the hostel. It was quite amazing. There was a large boat floating along when I got to the first vantage point and I took photos of this vessel fighting against the current. I had just read that the inspiration for the Pulteney Bridge was the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and I was heading for that bridge. Everything I was set on seeing was in that part of the city so I didn't rush.

    I was a bit surprised to find that Pulteney Bridge was not at all as I remember the Ponte Vecchio. The way along the "Bridge" in Bath is more like a road, with shops and restaurants on both sides. But it's very charming, full of character. I just took a few photos (mostly to return to this spot for a good lunch, after visiting the Roman Baths...) A very atmospheric place. The last photo was taken on the "road" of the bridge.

    About weirs: from Wikipedia: A weir is a barrier across a river designed to alter its flow characteristics. In most cases, weirs take the form of obstructions smaller than most conventional dams, pooling water behind them while also allowing it to flow steadily over their tops. Weirs are commonly used to alter the flow of rivers to prevent flooding, measure discharge, and help render rivers navigable.

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  • AcornMan's Profile Photo

    Pulteney Bridge 3

    by AcornMan Written May 15, 2004

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    Robert Adams planned a row of eleven small shops on each side, with staircases to attics above. Lofty Venetian windows formed the centrepiece of his design for the river facades, while matching Venetian Doors faced the street.Pulteney Bridge was completed in 1773. Over the years the bridge was transformed as shops were converted, ruining the street elevations. By 1948 the buildings had become "a pathetic travesty of the original design." In January 1936 the bridge was scheduled as a national monument and restoration planned to restore the original facade. The restoration was finally completed in time for the Festival of Britain in 1951. Today the bridge has been returned to its original grandeur and should not be missed by visitors to Bath.

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  • Ben-UK's Profile Photo

    Pulteney Bridge

    by Ben-UK Updated May 5, 2008

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    In the centre of the city, spanning the River Avon, Pulteney Bridge is apparently one of only four bridges in the world that are lined with shops on both sides. Actually, when you're on the bridge it just seems like a normal road but when you view it from the river it's a wonderful piece of architecture. It was completed in 1773 and, along with the Royal Cresecent, has become a symbol of Bath's architecture.

    You can get a close view of the bridge from the river walk which is accessed via some steps from the end of the bridge - see 'more photos'

    Pulteney Bridge, Bath
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  • Airpunk's Profile Photo

    Pulteney Bridge: A bridge with small shops on it

    by Airpunk Written Aug 22, 2006

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    Together with the roman baths, the abbey and a couple of 18th century architetural beauties, Pulteney bridge belongs to Bath's most popular attractions. Pulteney Bridge has a couple of small shops on it, including a small café on the southern side where you can sit and enjoy the view. The other shops are not really that interesting, only a souvenir shop, a sports shop and a late night shop are to be mentioned. When you walk on the bridge, you will not see any water, giving you the idea that you are on a normal street and not on a bridge.

    Pulteney bridge was completed in 1773 and altered several times during the centuries: A flood destroyed a part on the northern side, shopkeepers changed the windows and a couple of other alterations changed the appearance of this georgian monument. Restaurations took place in 1951 and 1975. Today, the bridge is one of only four in the world to have shops on both sides and full lenght. The name "Pulteney bridge" comes from Frances Pulteney, who was heiress in 1767 of the Bathwick estate across the river from Bath.

    Pulteney Bridge Does this look like a bridge? Pulteney Bridge. seen from the north
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  • SurfaceTravel's Profile Photo

    Pulteney Bridge

    by SurfaceTravel Written Sep 3, 2006

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    From the web site listed below: "Pulteney Bridge is a rarity. It is one of only four in the world lined by shops on both sides. It was built for William Pulteney, whose wife had inherited rural Bathwick across the river from Bath. Pulteney could see the potential for development, but first a ferry had to be replaced by a bridge. His architect Robert Adam favoured a Palladian design. The bridge has suffered so many changes that Adam would only recognise the south river front, yet it remains an architectural symbol of Bath. "

    It was completed in 1770, and other sources describe it as one of only four in Europe lined by shops on both sides.

    Pulteney Bridge
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  • Myfanwe's Profile Photo

    A Great looking bridge

    by Myfanwe Written Mar 14, 2010

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    Pultney Bridge is one of the world's most beautiful bridges. Like the Ponte Vecchio in Italy, it is one of a handful of historic bridges in the world with shops built into it.

    Built for William Pulteney by Robert Adams, the bridge was an attempt to connect central Bath to land on the other bank of the River Avon and make Pulteney's fortune. In spite of its practical origins it is surely the most romantic bridge in the gorld, best viewed from Parade Gardens park by the crescent weir.

    Pultney Bridge Pultney Bridge Pultney Bridge Pultney Bridge
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  • AcornMan's Profile Photo

    Pulteney Bridge 1

    by AcornMan Written May 15, 2004

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    One of only two bridges in Europe to support shops, the majestic Pulteney Bridge crosses the river Avon uniting east and west Bath. The eminent architect Robert Adam was commission by Sir William Pulteney to provide a fitting approach to the Pulteney estate, and the bridge, completed in 1770, was the impressive result.

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