History of the Old Bridge from the 17th Century
Historical Plaque Tells the Story
Nestled in a corner of the Old Bridge Pub beer garden, almost unnoticed, is an ancient rock from the banks of the Lourens River that bears a plaque inscribed with a brief commemeration to those involved with the construction of this unique and historic bridge.
This is what appears on the Old Bridge historical plaque:
Lourens River Bridge
The Lourens River is named after Corporal Lourens Visser who arrived from Holland at the Cape in 1666.
Colonial Secretary Sir John Montagu started the road building programme in the Cape and was responsible for the construction of the road from Cape Town over the Hottentots-Holland Kloof. The bridge over the Lourens River was completed in 1845 under the supervision of Architect WS Chauncey. Making it the second oldest surviving bridge in the country.
In 1952 an old-fashioned post cart drawn by six horses was driven across a strip of wet concrete on its way to the tercentenary celebration at Cape Town. Imprints of the Horses hooves and carriage wheels in the concrete remain as a record.
Another excellent source of historical information comes from a book by Peggy Heap, The Story of Hottentos Holland: Social history of Somerset West, the Strand, Gordon’s Bay and Sir Lowry Pass over three centuries, published by the Cape Town based A.A. Balkema publishers in 1970.
“The Lourens River was bridged by the Central Road Board in 1845. This double-span bridge was proclaimed a national monument in 1938 in which year a new bridge was completed.
The Central Road Board was formed in 1843 on account of the “appalling condition of the roads in the colony”.
“The Colonial Secretary, the Hon. John Montagu – he had fought as a subaltern at the battle of Waterloo – was the force behind this body. One of the Central Road Board’s first tasks was the construction of a hard road across the Cape Downs. This work was undertaken by Lt Col Charles Mitchell, Surveyor-General and Civil Engineer of the Cape Colony, who had built Sir Lowry’s Pass in 1830.”