Document referenceQAB
TitleRecords relating to bridges : North Riding Quarter Sessions
DescriptionThis sub-fonds consists of the administrative records of the North Riding Quarter Sessions. It consists of records relating to bridges, including: records of bridgemasters; plans and surveys; and records relating to the building, maintenance and repair of county bridges
Catalogue statusCatalogued
Administrative historyFrom early times, the repair of bridges was a recognized public duty, and the Justices were given the power to enquire, hear and determine all annoyances of bridges and to raise a rate for their repair. They were also authorized to appoint two surveyors in each county to see to the repair of bridges.

During the late 16th and 17th centuries, the North Riding Justices made frequent orders for the repair of county bridges and for the levying of bridge rates. During this period individual surveyors were appointed to oversee the building or repair of particular bridges, and there does not appear to have been a salaried Bridgemaster or bridge surveyor for the whole Riding, although such an official was appointed by the end of the 17th century.

During the 19th century, the Bridgemaster began to assume other responsibilities besides those of the maintenance, building and repair of county bridges and bridge roads. By 1837, the Bridgemaster was also acting as Architect and Surveyor of all public works in the Riding. Gradually the Bridgemaster assumed responsibility for the upkeep of such County buildings as the Court House and Register House, the House of Correction in Northallerton, the County Lunatic Asylum at Clifton, police stations and lock-ups. In 1879, the Bridgemaster was appointed County Surveyor, and became responsible for all main roads as well as bridges.

Following the establishment of Highway Boards in the North Riding in 1867, these Boards undertook the repair of some bridge roads under contract and supervised by the Bridgemaster from the middle of 1869.

Further information about the maintenance of bridges and the work of the Bridgemaster may be found in the North Riding Record Office's Annual Report for 1968
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