Packman's Pit and Lathbury Bridge.


This is an interesting site due to the importance of it's position. In the Middle Ages, travellers had to cross the rivers here en route from London to the East Midlands by means of a Ford at the shallowest point. There was a ferry for pedestrians prior to Lathbury Bridge being built in 1740. The bridge was built of Cambridgeshire stone by Reverend William Symes. It was a toll bridge with a gate at either end and was only unlocked when the river was high.
When the rivers were in flood, travellers had no choice but to use the bridge and pay the tolls charged by the owners, since the road to Stony Stratford was not yet made. Some coaches were still forced to cross the ford due to narrow-ness of the bridge and this was of course dangerous in times of flood.
On one occasion in 1745, during The Jacobyte Rebellion, Mrs Symes stopped some soldiers from The Kings Army from using the bridge by keeping the gate locked. She pretended to be away and so made the key unavailable.When they realised they couldn't get the key, they broke the gate open to cross.
Due to the increase in the number of coaches using the road, the bridge was purchased from Mrs Symes in 1757 by the Turnpike Trustees and thrown open for the public. The bridge was widened in 1838.
This map of the river in the 50's clearly shows Packman's Pit used to be a deep pit, connected to the river flow. Due to river diversion, Packman's Pit only contains water in times of flood.

See Packman's Pit Today page, to see photographs of how it looks today.