Stroll along the riverfront or take a punting tour along Cambridge’s River Cam and you’ll be sure to see the Mathematical Bridge, one of the city’s most photographed landmarks. The humble wooden footbridge crosses the river between the old and new buildings of the Queens College, and dates back to the 18th century.
Popular legend dictates that the bridge was the masterwork of Cambridge University alumni Isaac Newton, who built it to illustrate his theories of force and gravity, using only wood and no nuts, bolts or metal framework. In reality, the bridge was built by James Essex in 1749 to a design by William Etheridge. Officially called the ‘Wooden Bridge’, the Mathematical Bridge earned its famous nickname thanks to its impressive engineering design – using straight timber arranged in a series of tangents to create a self-supporting arc.
The bridge that stands today was actually rebuilt in 1905, but it’s become so well known that a replica has even been built at Oxford University, Cambridge’s notorious rival.
The Mathematical Bridge runs across the River Cam in central Cambridge, connecting the main buildings of the Queens College, part of the University of Cambridge.