A Bridge Too Far

The Parish of Warleggan Minute Book tells various stories which indicate that parish politics were as intense, if not more so, over 100 years ago than they are now.

Caremarsh Bridge

At a Parish Meeting in August 1900 a Committee was formed to meet Cardinham Parish Council at Caremarsh Bridge to consider its repair.   For those readers who have not had the pleasure of crossing Caremarsh Bridge, it is the granite footbridge set across the headwaters of the River Bedalder below the Glynn Valley China Clay Works on the frontier between Warleggan and Cardinham parishes.

By March 1902 it had been decided that Cardinham was to undertake the repairs and Warleggan was to pay half the cost.  All well so far.

But in January 1903 Cardinham wrote to Warleggan requesting payment of £4.15s (£4.75 for those of you who do not admit to remembering pounds, shillings and pence) being half the cost of repair of the bridge.  Warleggan unanimously resolved “to refuse payment because it is considered an overcharge”.

Cardinham wrote again in February requiring the half cost to be paid on or before 2nd March 1903.  However, steadfast (or stubborn?) Warleggan resolved “that as Warleggan had no voice in letting the work, and have not seen any specifications they would wish to see them and have the work valued by a competent man who Warleggan may approve of, as we fail to see where the money has been spent”.

Things were now getting heated as in March Cardinham put the matter in the hands of a solicitor.  Warleggan received a letter from the solicitor demanding payment of not only the £4 15s but also 10s costs in addition.  Warleggan resolved to offer Cardinham “the sum of forty shillings (£2).

By April Cardinham had not accepted the offer and Warleggan engaged their own solicitor.  At the May Meeting “A copy of a letter from Mr Venning (Warleggan solicitor) received from Mr Pethybridge (Cardinham solicitor) stating that the work was by tender and under the supervision of a Committee of the Parish Council of Cardinham and if the amount demamded was not paid there appeared to be no alternative but proceedings”  Warleggan resolved “to give Mr Venning instructions to write to Mr Pethybridge on the matter and state Warleggan would be prepared to bring witnesses to prove the amount claimed is an overcharge”.

By July 1903 Cardinham were beginning to retreat from their stance and wrote offering to accept £3 10s (£3.50).   Warleggan not willing to give in too easily offered £3.  Finally in August Cardinham accepted the £3 but Warleggan also had a solicitor’s bill for £1 11s 6d (£1.58).

So after six months of wrangling peace again reigned between the two parishes.   Warleggan had of course won as it had only paid Cardinham £3 but with the solicitor’s bill the amount eventually saved was 8s 6d (42p).  That is politics for you!

Milltown Bridge

When reading the Minutes my eyes lit up when only five years later in 1908 St Neot Parish Council wrote complaining of the condition of the footbridge at Milltown (crossing the River Dewey upstream from Pantersbridge on the eastern border of Warleggan).  They suggested fixing a new iron hand-rail if Warleggan paid half the cost.  Again it was resolved to form a Committee to meet St Neot at the bridge.

John Lawry (shoeing and general smith) of St Neot tendered the sum of £1 7s 6d (£1.38) to make and fix a handrail at the lower side of the bridge about 2’ 6” high with four uprights.  F G P Remfry Esq. wrote stating that he owned the bridge and the rail could be fixed if he did not have to pay any expenses.  St Neot accepted Mr Lawry’s tender and Warleggan Parish agreed to pay 13s 9d (69p) and the money was raised by voluntary subscriptions.

Perhaps we had learnt to settle issues without solicitors by the time of the second repair.  Incidentally the iron rails to Milltown Bridge need repair again – dare we raise it at the next Parish Meeting for fear of another dispute?

John Keast

More stories from the past…

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  1. Tristan Farnworth

    An absolutely wonderful story, wonderfully told by a true historian! Thanks for doing all the research, John, and keeping the past alive for us.

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