Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Powick Bridge, Worcester

In one of those strange quirks of history Powick Bridge, located just south of Worcester city centre, saw the first and last real military actions of the English Civil War. A similar event took place in the small Belgium village of Casteau where the 4th Dragoon Guards fired the first and last shots of the Great War for the British Army.

The first engagement, the battle of Powick Bridge in September 1642, was more of a cavalry skirmish. Prince Rupert troops chanced until the Parliament camp in the fields around this part of the river Teme and successfully drove off their cavalry. This enhanced the reputation of the Royalist cavalry of being nearly invincible which they enjoyed until the Cromwell’s Ironsides eventually turned up.

Almost exactly nine years later, in 1651, at the Battle of Worcester the bridge was heavy defended by Highland Scottish troops. These were later outflanked when Parliament forces used fords and a pontoon bridge to gain access to the north of the river.

It was during this later period that the two arches closest the further bank (in the image below) were destroyed. At the time of the battle the river could still be crossed using planks linking up over the remains of the abutments. The arches were later rebuilt but in the different style and are now obvious to spot.

Powick Bridge looking north towards Worcester. The large brick building in the background is a former mill that later became the world’s first combined steam/hydro electric power station during the Victorian period.
View on the bridge looking north showing the just how narrow the structure is.







Same spot as above looking back towards Powick village and the 'road' to Great Malvern to the south. This gives a good impression of the type of hedgerows that were so hard fought over during the later battle of Worcester.












As the radical preacher Hugh Peters poignantly said, "When your wives and children shall ask where you have been, and what news, say you have been at Worcester, where England's sorrows began, and where they happily ended."

It is definitely worth the slight detour out of Worcester (previous visit detailed here) to visit Powick, the location of one of the true turning points in British (and it could be argued, world) history.