Kingsbury Bridge lies at the foot of Blackbird Hill and takes Neasden Lane over the River Brent.
The Foot Bridge
From very early times there must have been a bridge over the River Brent at Kingsbury by Blackbird Hill. It is first mentioned in the 16th century in an indenture (agreement) between Jon Chalkhill, of Chalkhill House, and the College of All Souls, Oxford, local landlords. Apparently this was a foot bridge only, and all other traffic in the form of 'horses, carts and all other manner of carriages' used a ford nearby. However, Jon Chalkhill had dammed up the river to supply his water mill, the ford became impassable and dangerous. The College and John Chalkhill agreed that the bridge will be strengthened at the expense of the College, and Chalkhill was to keep the bridge in good repair.
By the beginning of the 19th century the Mill was gone, and no sketch of description of it can be found. It is interesting to note that the Ordnance survey map of 1894 quite clearly shows a discarded river diversion which could well have been the millstream.
The bridge was described in the Report on the bridges of Middlesex of 1826 as wooden and eleven feet wide, spanning a river 33 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Later it was replaced by a more substantial structure. At the time of O.Claude Robson's appointment as surveyor to Willesden Local Board in 1875, the Kingsbury Bridge was comprised of two arches, each of 14 feet span. The central pier became undermined by the stream and gave way on 11th April 1881, causing the bridge to collapse. Robson was instructed by the Board to erect a temporary wooden structure which was so well constructed that it was to last 11 years during wranglings over who was responsible for a permanent bridge. Wisely he erected this bridge offset from the line of Neasden Lane so that it could be used whilst a new bridge was under construction.
Work on the permanent bridge commenced in August 1891. It took the form of four steel girders on brick abutments with steel decking superimposed. The span was 32 feet and the width between parapets, 31 feet. It boasted ornamental lattice iron sides surmounted at each end by four very ornamental lamps. Forethought allowed for future extension. The bridge was officially opened on 26th January 1892.
The Present Day Bridge
Despite its substantial construction, the Victorian bridge lasted for only thirty years. In 1922 Neasden Lane and Blackbird Hill had to be transformed from a country lane to a modern road in preparation for the British Empire Exhibition, and the present bridge was built.
Reproduced from the Journals of the © Willesden Local History Society , all rights reserved
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© Brent Heritage website 2002