The Iron Bridges
Image credit: Willie Robertson
The distinguishing feature of Foots Cray Meadows these days is the 19th century-built Five Arch Bridge. But with the River Cray forming a south to north path, for just over a mile, through the centre of this particular landscape, other crossing points are also important.
Look across to the Loring Hall Playing fields where you might see a gathering of mistle thrushes in late summer with green woodpecker, jackdaws any time of year and redwing/fieldfare in winter.
To the north of the Meadows lies the third of the structures that transverses the chalk stream. Some 40 metres in length, this is known by locals as the Iron Bridge, due to its obvious construction material.
It may not possess the picturesque quality of the other crossings upstream but it is tucked quaintly amid the trees and undergrowth of the Riverside Woodland and provides important access to the children’s playground in Royal Park on the west side and to the North Cray Road and White Cross Inn pub, via Water Lane, on the east side.
This would seem to have replaced, in modern times, a similar wooden structure that appears in a 1910 photograph, though details of these bridges are not plentiful.
There is another iron bridge crossing the river approximately 200 yards to the north of the Iron Bridge, where the Meadows end. This bridge runs from Riverside Road via a tarmac footpath to Water Lane and the North Cray Road.