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Lydlynch’s Historic ‘Temporary’ Bridge


At Lydlynch, near Sturminster Newton on the A357 road there is an unusual but unassumingly modest yet strong steel bridge of some local historical significance. It crosses the River Lydden and can be found alongside an older and more traditional crossing which it is believed dates back to the early 18th century. The more modern bridge takes traffic one way while the older stone bridge takes it the other way.

This steel construction is known as a Callender-Hamilton bridge. It was assembled in 1942 by Canadian army engineers as it was evident that the old stone bridge would not be able to bear heavy loads. At the time, it was only envisaged as a temporary feature. It was a Canadian armoured regiment that was the first major military user of the bridge prior to the raid on Dieppe in August 1942. The same route was later used by tanks and other military equipment which moved south to Poole for the D Day Normandy Invasion.

This Callender-Hamilton bridge was assembled on site and bolted together like a Meccano set. It had been jointly designed by Archibald Hamilton, a New Zealand engineer and the Callender’s Cable & Construction Company who had factories at Erith in Kent and Leigh in Lancashire. There are many other Callender-Hamilton examples of bridges still in use in fifty countries around the world. And its design enables it to be disassembled at any time.

This Callender-Hamilton bridge is a credit to its designers as the galvanised coating after more than 80 years has stood the test of time. Only necessary work has been some timber decking repairs and bridge strengthening in 1996 such that it could cope with modern larger lorries.

Lydlynch’s  Callender-Hamilton bridge must by now, some eight decades later, surely be recognised as a permanent  rather than temporary North Dorset feature? These bridges are still in production and are made by a Hereford based construction company.

(Image: Callender-Hamilton bridge being assembled.)


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