High Street, Boroughbridge
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Boroughbridge is a small town in the West Riding of Yorkshire, 13 miles northwest of York. Until its road bypass was built, the town lay on the main A1 road from London to Edinburgh. The A1 crosses the River Ure here.
The origin of the name "Boroughbridge" lies in its location relative to Aldborough the principal settlement during the Roman period and known as Isurium Brigantum. After the Norman Conquest, Dere Street, the Roman road heading north from York, was diverted from just north of Aldborough to its position in the town of Boroughbridge. A new town grew up where it crossed the River Ure and the Old Town became known as the "Ald-Borough" (Aldborough), the new town became "New Borough on t'Brigg" (Bridge), which became "Borough on t'Brigg" and finally Boroughbridge.
The Roman town was just up the road, but Boroughbridge was founded in the early Middle Ages, as a new bridge on the River Ure.
In 1322, the Battle of Boroughbridge took place as King Edward II overpowered Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, bringing about the end of Edward II's retaliation against those who had opposed him in the Despenser War of 1320–21.
Boroughbridge was a parliamentary borough from the Middle Ages, electing two Members to the House of Commons. It had a burgage franchise, meaning that the right to vote was tied to ownership of certain of property in the borough and had less than 100 qualified voters by the time it was abolished in the Reform Act of 1832: It was a pocket borough under the control of the Dukes of Newcastle. Augustus FitzRoy, who was Prime Minister as the 3rd Duke of Grafton, was elected MP for Boroughbridge in 1756; but never sat for the borough as he preferred to represent Bury St Edmunds where he had also been elected.
Boroughbridge was an important stage for stagecoaches because of its position on the Great North Road midway between London and Edinburgh. An advertisement in the Edinburgh Courant for 1754 reads:
The Edinburgh Stage-coach, for the better accommodation of passengers, will be altered to a New Genteel Two-end Glass Coach Machine, being on steel springs, exceeding light and easy, to go in ten days in Summer and twelve in Winter; to set out the first Tuesday in March, and continue it, from Hosea Eastgate's, the Coach and Horses, in Dean-Street, Soho, London; and from John Somerville's, in the Canongate, Edinburgh, every other Tuesday, and meet at Burrow-Bridge on Saturday night, and set out from thence on Monday morning, and get to London and Edinburgh on Friday. In Winter, to set out from London to Edinburgh every other (alternate) Monday morning, and to go to Burrowbridge on Saturday night; and to set out from thence on Monday morning, and get to London and Edinburgh on Saturday night. Passengers to pay as usual. Performed, if God permits, by your dutiful servant HOSEA EASTGATE.
In 1945 the bridge carrying the A1 road over the River Ure collapsed under the weight of a heavy transport vehicle carrying an 80-ton steel mill roll housing from Sheffield to Falkirk. The incident interrupted the main transport route for a short time and the army installed a Bailey bridge until repairs were completed.
Near the town
A line of three menhirs, or standing stones, known as the Devil's Arrows, believed to have been erected in the Bronze Age, can be found on the outskirts of Boroughbridge, by the side of the A1. The tallest stone is 22 feet tall. The stones are of millstone grit, probably quarried from Plompton, the closest source of this material. The stones stand on an almost north–south alignment, with the central stone slightly offset. The first reference to the stones is from the journal of a fisherman, Peter Frankck who visited Boroughbridge in 1694, and claims he saw seven stones. The antiquarian John Leyland saw four stones, which is the verifiable number. The absent fourth stone stood close to the central stone and was dug out and broken up, allegedly by treasure hunters. Most of it was used to build a bridge in Boroughbridge called Peg Bridge, which crosses the River Tutt as it enters the town. According to tradition the top of the fourth stone was to be found in the grounds of Aldborough Hall, which stands between Boroughbridge and Aldborough.
- Boroughbridge Community Website
- History and other information about Boroughbridge
- Boroughbridge Guide
- Boroughbridge Town Council
- Richmondshire and the Vale Of Mowbray, Edmund Bogg, Published by Elliot Stock 1908, Vol. 1 pp. 8–12