Hidden away from the modern road that runs through Turton Bottoms is the original bridge over the Bradshaw Brook. This is a packhorse bridge – a narrow construction that would just allow one person, guiding a pony, over the water below.
When Turton cornmill was relocated to Turton Bottoms, the bridge was built to provide access to the mill. This means that the original bridge could have been in place from 1691, and in records it was sometimes referred to as New Mill Bridge.
In 1798, a new road and bridge were built to cross the Bradshaw Brook (the present Bolton Road /Wellington Road), However, the packhorse bridge was also still used and deemed to be important. As late as 1844, a Manor Court record referring to it as ‘pack saddle bridge‘ reported it was in a ‘ruinous and dangerous state‘ and that the council was required to repair it.
The bridge has obviously been restored over the years, and is now in very good condition. Guide rails have been added to stop the unwary from tumbling into the brook below. Some of the sets (cobbles) that would have prevented the path close to the bridge from becoming muddy still remain in place. It is popular with ramblers and used as part of a route known as the Warpers Trail, a section of the Witton Weavers Way .
Black Rock Community Orchard
Just a few steps beyond the bridge lies Black Rock Community Orchard. This is named after the bleach and dye works that developed where the old cornmill had once stood. This was a little further upstream near the road bridge (see our page on the waterwheel that was rescued from the site here).
The land by the packhorse bridge was threatened with development, however a campaign was able to bring it into public ownership. In 2008, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers worked with local children to plant a range of fruit trees that would grow some of the traditional varieties of north-west England.
Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2022
The bridge lies just off Vale Street at Turton Bottoms. Walk down from Wellington Road onto Vale Street. The bridge is on the left-hand side (look for the telegraph pole with a small arrow indicating the footpath down to the bridge).
On-street parking at Bolton Road and Wellington Road, Turton Bottoms.
The History of Turton Mill, R. Lindrop (1989) Turton Local History Society. Booklet still available from the society.
Black Rock Community Orchard on site interpretation