OLD TRENT BRIDGE, West Side, 1870

This drawing shows us the aspect of the old Trent Bridge towards Wilford, and portrays very clearly the appearance of the mediaeval structure. How long there has been a passage of the Trent near this point no man can say. There was a ford here in Roman times and in the year 924 Edward the Elder, a son of King Alfred, built across this passage the first stone bridge in England since Roman times. Edward the Elder was then in the midst of his campaigns against the Danes, and was being ably seconded by his noble sister AEthelfleda the Lady of the Mercians.

The southern approacl to Edward's bridge was protected by a fortification called a 'burgh', and it is a point to be considered whether the modern name of Lady Bay should not really be 'Lady Burgh', and refer to this burgh which was erected by the Lady of the Mercians. Edward the Elder's bridge was succeeded by a mediaeval bridge called 'Heth Beth Bridge', an extraordinary name which has never been very satisfactorily explained. It may derive from 'Hythe'—meaning a landing place, as in the name 'Rotherhythe'—and 'Beth' which is another form of the word 'Wath', which means a ford or passage, as in the name 'Wath-on-Dearn'. If this derivation is correct it would make Heth Beth mean the 'landing place by the ford or crossing', which is a not unlikely name.

Like many other mediaeval bridges Heth Beth Bridge carried a chapel, for the upkeep of bridges was considered a religious duty in olden times, and further, the condition of the roadways was so terrible that travellers were fain to pray ardently before commencing a journey, and to return fervent thanks at its conclusion.

The chapel on Heth Beth Bridge was dedicated to St. Mary, and a small portion of the tracery of one of its windows is still preserved in the Thoroton Society's room. The old bridge became so decrepit and inconvenient that in 1871 the present Trent Bridge was built from the designs of Mr. Tarbotton, the Borough engineer, at the cost of £30,000.