Search History The Fall of Yarmouth Bridge 11-14 Key Stage 3

The Events of 1845

Some sixteen years after the opening of the bridge disaster was to strike. Cooke's Royal Circus visited the town every year and in 1845, in order to drum up trade, one of the clowns, whose name was Nelson, decided to perform a stunt on the rivers Yare and Bure. Here we see a handbill for the event. On 2nd May Nelson was to sail up the Yare and into the Bure in a washing tub pulled by four real geese.

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Poster for Nelson the Clown's stunt

Here we see the planned route of Nelson. He was to sail from Yarmouth Bridge at the bottom of the map, up the river Yare, going right into the Bure, and finally arriving at Vauxhall Gardens, right next to the Suspension Bridge. Thousands gathered to watch on the banks of the river, and about four to five hundred gathered on the Suspension Bridge itself.

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Nelson's routeImage:

Map showing area and situation of the bridge

Suddenly, as Nelson turned the corner into the river, the crowd moved to one side of the bridge. One of the suspending chains snapped and hundreds of people were thrown into the water. Many were saved by the swift action of some who launched boats, but others were trapped by the weight of the bridge and the people above them, and drowned.

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The bridge collapsesImage:

Engraving of the collapse from The Norfolk News 1845

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