Lendal Bridge had its origins in the early nineteenth century, when initial plans for its construction were drawn up. It took some time for further progress to be made.
The construction of the bridge had proved difficult, the local paper reporting in January 1861 that the work had been suspended for some time due to weather difficulties. They reported that piling was about to recommence when the tide allowed, and that the masons would again be able to restart their work. Later on in 1861, the bridge collapsed, and five men were killed.
The dead men were, Richard Masser (aged 15, rivet heater), John Manuel (aged 22, rivetter), Luke Brown (aged 28), Thomas Hoyle and John Smith (aged 20). The injured were Peter Dealone (aged 15), John Henry Peckett and Thomas Coulter.
Lendal Bridge was completed in 1863, constructed by Thomas Page, who had once been an assistant of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and who had also worked on Westminster and Chelsea Bridges. The bridge had a 175 foot span and cost 35,000 pounds to build.
A ferry had previously served this location, between Barker Tower on one side, and Lendal Tower on the other. After completion of the bridge, the ferryman was given £15 and a horse and cart as compensation for the end of his trade.
At the opening of the bridge, the local paper noted that “few will latterly have watched the progress of the works upon the new bridge at Lendal, but will be gratified wit the rapidity with which Mr . Page, the talented engineer, has pushed on their completion”. The Lord Mayor opened the bridge, accompanied on a procession with members of the Corporation, the magistrates and other public functionaries. The procession went up Stonegate, along Petergate, turning into Little Blake Street directly to the bridge.
Tolls were to be abolished in 1894 for both vehicles and pedestrians, and with the construction of Station Road, the bridge had continued to become important in aiding York’s increasing traffic flow. In 1910 the bridge had to be strengthened to take the weight of the trams which were being taken across it.