Lift bridge animation
Movable Bridges in the British Isles
Swing bridge animation

About me

I am a 'retired person' - retired from various things! I worked as a teacher for 28 years, including 25 years on the staff of a residential special school. When the stress of that got too much I took early retirement and then spent 8 years driving for an executive car hire company. Most of the work was airport runs and I covered 380,000 miles in those 8 years.

During my working life I have been an insurance clerk, worked in shops, on the factory floor, a bit of farm labouring and for a one summer did a milk round - whatever paid the rent really!

My first wife Bronwen was also a teacher and for 17 years was headteacher of a Special Needs School for children aged 2 - 6.

We have 3 sons and I now have 3 grandchildren.

When my wife Bronwen died suddenly in 2005 I decided to retire from paid employment altogether and spend more time doing various things that I had never had enough time for before.

This included spending a great deal more time on this movable bridges project, but also travelling more widely, including trips to Finland, Portugal, Kuwait and Wales - plus of course visits to various parts of England. Both of these activities combine well with probably my oldest hobby - photography. I have been messing about with cameras since I was lent a little 'Vest Pocket Kodak' when I was about 10 years old. I was later given the camera, and still have the camera and the negatives from that first film!

I love the digital age and the fact that digital images are so easily manipulated without all the time in the dark room messing about with test pieces, chemicals and drying times!

Bronwen and I spent many happy times on the Norfolk Broads. Starting out with an 8’ dinghy in the 1960’s we eventually acquired a 28’ cabin cruiser. It was the discovery of two demolished swing rail bridges on the River Waveney that launched me on this project to record the history of movable bridges. We also owned a caravan and toured Britain in that. Lately the caravan was very useful for research trips and photo shoots for this project.

Sadly Bronwen’s died in 2005. We had been together for 42 years and I was devastated when she died.

I was a member of St. Mary’s Church Melton Mowbray for over 25 years. In 2010 a new curate – the Rev Sally Rowland – was appointed to our clergy team. In 2011 Sally and I got engaged and we married on December 30th 2011. When Sally completed her training in the summer of 2013 she was offered a living as a team vicar in Hampshire. So after 69 years living in Leicestershire and Rutland I moved south!

It took some effort to sort out the vicarage and the large garden, and I also became very involved in voluntary work for the church and in supporting Sally in her ministry, which included working with up to 14 schools in the area. During that time I found it increasingly difficult to find any time to work on the bridges project.

Sally retired from ministry in January 2020. We had purchased a house in south Devon ready for retirement and we moved to the house in mid-February. There is much work to be done on the house and garden, but I am now beginning to find time – once again – to work on this bridges project!

Stewart Marchant