Sonning Backwater Bridges
are two road bridges across two branches of the River Thames
at Sonning Eye
. Built in 1986
to replace an older wooden structure, the bridges span Sonning Backwater and the millrace
to link historic brick arch Sonning Bridge
of 1775, which spans the boundary with Berkshire
to connect the village of Sonning
, with the smaller hamlet of Sonning Eye. Just upstream along the backwater is a weir
next to Sonning Lock
on the main navigable branch of the river.
Close to the bridge are the Mill at Sonning
, now a theatre, on an island between two branches of the river, and the French Horn
, a hotel and restaurant on the northern Oxfordshire bank.
The modern backwater bridges replaced a wooden and somewhat rickety structure. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were complaints about the traction engines
causing structural problems with the old wooden bridge and disturbing the peace, much as there is with traffic today The Beautiful Sonning Bridges, The Sphere
, page 275, September 13, 1902.. The road (the B478) is the busiest B road
in Oxfordshire, being the only way for road vehicles
to cross the Thames between Henley-on-Thames
The bridges are occasionally inundated or closed to traffic when the Thames is in extreme flood; the waters regularly rise to the steps of the famous French Horn
restaurant and submerge the car park of the nearby Flowing Spring pub.