About the Thames

Section 3 – Oxford to Wallingford

Researched and written by Jeannette Briggs and photos by Stephen Worsfold

Leaving Oxford behind we reach the historic old town of Abingdon. Here the present bridge stands on the site of a much older one which had 14 arches, and was built in 1416 by the Fraternity of the Holy Cross (who lived in the Benedictine abbey founded in AD 675).

Abingdon Bridge - Photo courtesy Simon Worsfold

 The present Abingdon Bridge (headroom 13’11".) was built in 1927 and carries the A415 into the town on the left bank.  The Thames continues down to Culham, where it is crossed by Culham Lock Cut footbridge and Sutton Bridge (headroom 14’9"). Beyond this point Appleford Railway Bridge traverses the Thames. At Clifton Hampden Bridge (headroom 13’5") you encounter this delightful 6-arched structure in red brick, which was built in 1864 to the design of Sir George Gilbert Scott. He was also responsible for the Albert Memorial and St Pancras Station Hotel.  The bridge was paid for by Henry Hucks Gibbs, Baron Aldenham, who received the tolls he charged his estate and domestic staff who had to cross the Thames to reach his estate for work. The builder was Richard Casey, who produced the actual bricks used in theconstruction in a kiln on Clifton Heath,  and who later lived in the adjacent toll cottage and was resposible for collecting the tolls...All of this delightful area is a prime tourist magnet.

Clifton Hampden Bridge 

The river continues down to Little Wittenham where the bridge has a headroom of 14’3", and to Shillingford.

River Thames
 Shillingford Bridge by SW

The bridge here has a headroom of 17’8" and was built of stone in 1830. No further bridges traverse the Thames until one reaches Wallingford.

Wallingford Bridge by Doug Myers

Wallingford Bridge (headroom 16’5") has 17 arches and mediaeval origins. It was widened on the upstream side in 1809. The result is that the bridge has rounded 19th century arches upstream and quaint pointed mediaeval arches on the downstream side! Mercifully this structure does not have to cope with the weight of 20th century traffic, as Wallingford town is now bypassed by a new-ish road bridge (headroom 16’9") which diverts heavy loads of traffic away from the centre of the town. 


Back To Thames Bridges                                                                                                                   Next section