History Uncategorized

The mystery of Deadman’s Bridge

Just south of central Palmers Green, as Green Lanes approaches the North Circular, are two bridges, the first crossing the New River (Kings Arms Bridge), and the second crossing Pymmes Brook, and going by the name Deadman’s Bridge.

Why it is called that we do not seem to know, but the name appears to be ancient. A History of the County of Middlesex vol 5 (www/ states that in the sixteenth century Green Lanes was a collection of linked roads, one of them being Deadman’s Hill in Palmers Green. In 1789 they find a reference to “Bowes Farm Bridge, presumably Deadman’s bridge in Green Lanes” where “a single arch, was built…by the road trustees and repaired in 1822 by the county”. Presumably the 1789 bridge replaced an earlier structure, (given that Pymmes Brook always needed to be traversed by those heading north). Presumably too the present bridge is in part or wholly another post 1822 incarnation.  Does anyone know?

Another mystery is what occasioned the warning to traction engines and carriages which is posted on the bridge on a metal plaque (the wording is slightly unclear – the decifering below is by photographer Fin Fahey)

‘COUNTY OF MIDDLESEX / TAKE NOTICE that this Bridge / which is a County Bridge is insufficient to carry / weights beyond the [ordinary?] traffic of the / District and that the owners and persons in / charge of LOCOMOTIVE TRACTION ENGINES / and heavily laden CARRIAGES are warned / against using the Bridge for the passage of / any such Engines or Carriages / Richd. Nicholson / Clerk of the Peace.’