Following on from the post about the relics of the old Bass brewing company in Burton, I wanted to share some more secrets of Burton on Trent which are hiding in plain sight. Things which people pass by every day and not even give a second glance to. All of these are located in or close to Trent Bridge, AKA Burton Bridge and AKA “the old bridge”.
I did a post about Burton’s oldest river crossing a while back, but I failed to mention a couple of interesting things on and around the bridge.
This is a curious one to me. It’s true that the station is around 1 mile from Trent Bridge, but I don’t know why there is a sign attached to the bridge there, on the pavement on the south side of the bridge. If you were to put the sign up horizontally, it would point in the wrong direction, so it must have been on the other side of the road at one time. “M.R.” stands for the Midland Railway, the company who opened and operated Burton on Trent railway station. The “Halbard Burton” refers to Philip Halbard’s foundry in Horninglow Street. Halbard’s foundry closed in 1879, so the sign must be over 140 years old. I don’t know what the graffiti tag is, it’s just one of the many that have appeared in the town in recent years.
Also on the bridge are three plaques, two of which are pictured above. The one on the left refers to a cavalry charge led by Colonel Thomas Tyldesley during the Battle of Burton Bridge, where the Royalists (Tyldesely’s side) defeated the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. Queen Henrietta Maria was the wife of King Charles I, and she was keen to recapture the important river crossing at Burton. The 36-arched medieval bridge no longer exists, having been replaced by the current Trent Bridge and demolished.
The plaque on the right, at the Burton end of the bridge commemorates the widening of the bridge in the 1920s, in order to accommodate the trams, which lasted just a few more years after the widening was complete. Nowadays, the bridge supports three lanes of motor traffic, so the widening was not a complete waste of time. There is another similar plaque towards the Winshill end of the bridge.
Just off Trent Bridge is Meadow Road, and on that road is a car park with a stone wall, which can be seen from Trent Bridge. It is believed that the stone used in this wall were part of the previous medieval bridge which ran just to the north of the present bridge.
I don’t know what is down the steps and through the gate, and I didn’t want to look.
The old Wetmore Bus Park
Until the 1980s, Burton’s main bus park was Wetmore Bus Park, located at the Burton end of Trent Bridge, just off Bridge Street and where Severn Drive is today. The town centre effectively moved from the Bargates and High Street towards its present location around the other end of High Street, Station Street and New Street. New shopping centres The Octagon Centre, Worthington Walk (now Burton Place) and the Burton Shopping Centre (Coopers Square) were built around that area, and buses now use stops on New Street and High Street. All of Wetmore Bus Park was demolished for housing, except the public toilets. I don’t recall if they remained open as toilets, but they were renovated in the late 2000s and are now used as office space.
Old Road Sign
Just outside the former Swan Inn pub at the Swan Junction, there is an old road sign almost buried behind trees. I didn’t even notice it myself until I was standing near it, waiting to cross the road there (which takes about half an hour with all the traffic lights).
I’ve been to all those places. It could do with a clean-up/repaint, but it’s quite amazing that it has survived for all these years, hiding in plain sight.
That’s all for now, but there’s plenty more where that came from. The best way to get updates on new blog posts is on social media, and you can find all the links here. Thanks for reading.