Is there something missing on the Old Bridge?

As an historic structure, owned by a medieval charity, Rochester’s Old Bridge is naturally an object of fascination.

Many people love the lions and look out for them as they approach the bridge, others prefer a mystery and ask about the windows in the river wall of Rochester Esplanade. On this decorative, historic bridge there are lots of things to intrigue, and that’s before we look at the wider area or look back through history. However we are also asked about things that are much less interesting than the attention they generate.

This blog aims to answer one of those questions, which relates to a tiny detail on the balustrade of the Old Bridge. This is the barrier that stops pedestrians walking off the footpath into the river, and it was installed on the Old Bridge in 1914, when the Victorian bridge was reconstructed and the iconic bowstring trusses were installed.

The balustrade comprises a series of panels, fixed together with large posts. On top of each of these posts is something we call a post cap, and on each post cap there is a small red rectangle.

For something so small, these red rectangles draw a lot of attention and speculation. This is because if you look closely it’s possible to see two small holes. Those holes often prompt the question: What is missing? The answer is: nothing.

The holes are a necessary part of the post cap itself, as they are part of the mechanics of how it is attached. Essentially, the post caps are put over the top of the post in two sections. They are then bolted together and the small holes you see on the outside are what visibly remains of this fixing method.


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