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The Draynes Bridge Mystery

Photographs taken 2004 to 2013 (plus other old photos)

Golitha Falls is a wonderfully mysterious and fascinating place, and mysteries can be found even before you start to explore further within the woods and down by the falls themselves, and around all the old mine workings that you can discover. Draynes Bridge holds its own mysteries! The present bridge was built in 1876, as is confirmed by the date stone proudly positioned in the centre of the parapet. But what was here before? If you look carefully around at the evidence around the bridge, the past will start to reveal itself. And to add to this, there are a couple of other mysterious puzzles to be found hidden in the surrounding undergrowth. Read on...

Draynes Bridge 2013
Draynes Bridge on a cold January day in 2013

The 1876 bridge was built when there were a few less trees around, and the immediate area was a lot more open. In the trees and bushes on the east side of the bridge, between the road and the river, can be found a strange looking forked post, that lies opposite an equally strange metal plate that can be found in the ground on the opposite side of the river. Are they connected? Is this post connected somehow with the old mine workings in the woods? Was it used for some kind of rope and tackle arrangement for hauling heavy items across the river before the current bridge was built? What possible purpose could it have? To find out what this mystery post was used for, read on, puzzle some more, and when you need the answer, you will find it at the bottom of the page.

Mystery Post 1
What is it?
The mystery post hidden in the trees and bushes between the road and the waterside - seen clearly in 2004

Back in 2004, it was a little less overgrown, as by 2011, nature was starting to hide it again, and it was slowly disappearing from easy sight...

Mystery Post 2
By 2011, the post is starting to get hidden by the undergrowth and ivy creepers again

Looking closer, it has a curved and forked top, and possible riveted or bolted holes on each side of the fork. The whole is set into a very solid granite post, upright in the ground. No other specific markings are evident in the granite, other than some old quarrying and granite dressing marks.

Mystery Post 3
The forked top of the post

Mystery post 4
The granite base

On further investigation, this post has clearly been around a while. It can be seen in a number of old photographs of Draynes Bridge, that have been taken over the past 100-odd years. Some of these are reproduced below. The post is clearly evident in the bottom left corner of this photo.

Draynes Bridge early 1900s
Photograph assumed to be from sometime during the early 1900s to perhaps the 1930s.
Telegraph or electricity poles appear to be evident in the background.

The above same photograph has also been reproduced on another old postcard, but with better quality, entitled "Draynes Bridge, Redgate, near Doublebois, in Winter". There is no date on the un-posted card, but on the reverse, there is a tantalising hand-written record of a horse-riding trip, paused on the way towards Jamaica Inn, in the style of Daphne du Maurier...

"The little river here is the river Fowey. It comes tumbling down from the moorland and winds down through these woods. It is here that we found the Golitha Falls and pic-nic-ed on the rocks by the water, before riding on across the moorland to find "Jamaica Inn", the old smugglers hide out, high on the moors, at bleak Bolventor."

Draynes Bridge early 1900s clearer
Another old postcard with the above horse-riding tale on the reverse, of the same winter scene, c1900 to 1930.
The old smithy of Samp Wilton's, now the public toilets, can be seen on the opposite side of the river

Looking closely at the first photo above, the mystery post can be clearly picked out, with its forked top mounted on its granate post base...

Old fork post from postcard
The old forked post still very clearly present at least 100 years ago

The following three photographs are some other old images and postcards discovered of Draynes Bridge that have been collected over the past few years, representing how the bridge and surroundings have looked, likely during the post-war years after the late 1940s...

Draynes Bridge old postcard
Of unknown date, this postcard still has a hint of the post, but with the very well established Beach tree "avenue"
apparent to the left of photo. A new telegraph or power pole is evident to the east side of the river

Draynes Bridge old postcard
Possibly post-war 1940s to 1950s. The post is slightly hidden by the tree growing from the left

Draynes Bridge 1946
Photograph taken from book "The River Fowey" by Wilson MacArthur, published in 1946,
taken from a very similar position to the previous photograph, but later in the season

The two following photograhs have been dated by their original glass plates, held by Kresen Kernow, Cornwall's new Record and Achives facility, so the dating in these cases is very reliable. The two photographs are taken from downstream and then from upstream. It would appear that the newer telegraph or power pole to the east of the bridge is dated as being placed there somewhere between c1932 and c1937.

Draynes Bridge 1932 - Kresen Kernow
c1932 and a very clear post! Glass plate photograph courtesy of Cornwall's archive at Kresen Kernow

Draynes Bridge 1937 - Kresen Kernow
c1937, and the bridge this time viewed from upstream, with the forked post not visible from here. Draynes Wood can now
be seen beyond the bridge, and the newer telegraph or power pole is now evident on the far left.
Glass plate photograph courtesy of Cornwall's archive at Kresen Kernow

This following postcard looks to be a very early one, with much less tree growth, and possibly dated more towards 1900. The forked post is not clearly evident here, but it is possibly hidden by undergrowth and not readily discernable in this old photograph. It is also conceivably just out of shot. Given the apparent age of the forked post, it was definitely here long before this image was taken. What is also very interesting from this photograph, is the fact that it shows where the old ford across the river was located. The ford diagonally crosses the shallows between the two 'inlets' on either side of the river, on this downstream side. The photo, with postcard markings on the reverse, also has a dated spelling of 'Dranes', also sometimes historically 'Dreynes'.

Draynes Bridge old postcard
Another older Draynes Bridge postcard, again likely dating from the early 1900s to 1930s, and showing a very open aspect.
A lone fisherman with his hat is sat on the bridge, Draynes cottages is behind, and Bulland Down is in the background

The old ford is also clearly shown here on the old 1842 Tithe Map, reproduced in the next image, crossing the river diagonally, just below the site of an older moor primitive foot or carthorse bridge crossing, located in the approximate position of the present bridge.

Draynes Bridge on old Tithe Map
An excerpt from the 1842 Tithe Map showing the old ford, and the position of an earlier foot or carthorse bridge
that pre-dates the present 1876 bridge, crossing in approximately the same position as the present bridge

The earlier pre-1876 bridge, and the old ford in particular, followed the line of an ancient trackway route into Cornwall that crossed the river Tamar at Horsebridge, and locally here followed the route of Draynes Lane through Trenant towards Bodmin. The revetted or walled embankment, and the approach to the original old bridge crossing point, is apparent immediately to the left of the present bridge in the photograph below.

Draynes bridge old crossing place
Looking across to the revetted bank where the older original foot or carthorse bridge crossed from

The crossing point for the old ford is also clearly discernable on the ground on the western side of the river, here viewed from the opposite eastern bank across the shallows. It is a long while since carts and horses last crossed the river just here.

Draynes old ford 2011
The site of the old ford

But where does that old iron forked post in its granite base fit into all of this? What was its purpose? Not guessed it yet? Maybe all these crossings, the old ford, the original carthorse bridge, and the present 1876 bridge are a clue. Here you can see the old ford and the present bridge as photographed in 2004. The old forked post is hidden behind the trees on the right, located between the road, the river, the old ford and the bridge. And the answer? You will find it at the end of this page just below.

Draynes Bridge 2004
Draynes Bridge and Old Ford in 2004

And finally, here really is a mystery! I do not have a clue what it is. This is the metal plate that can be found on the opposite side of the river to the forked post, that was intimated at earlier. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the forked post. Does it have some connection with old mining equipment? Does it have something to do with the river? Why is there a small handle on top? What strange piece of industrial heritage is this? Who knows?

Draynes Bridge circular plate
On the opposite bank of the river to the mystery post, on the flat area just above the old ford in the previous photo,
is this heavy metal plate, or base, with a small handle attached. What is it??? Now that IS a mystery.

The answer to the mystery of the old forked post:
anvil digests poem (to solve the anagram - hover your mouse over for the answer)

For more extensive information about the history of Draynes Bridge, including the forked post, there is an excellent Historic Building Record report from Cornwall Council written by Nigel Thomas, that is available free to read or download through the Archaeological Data Service.

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