Crossing rivers was difficult and dangerous in the early days, when there were no bridges.
If you had a rowboat it was less of a problem, but how would you take your horse and cart across?
Early explorers and settlers looked for spots where they could cross safely.
On the South Esk they found Beams's Ford, on a bend in the river between Traveller's Rest and Hadspen.
On the North Esk you had to go to Clark's Ford at St Leonards.
Presumably it was found by Mr Clark, who had a farm located somewhere around Elphin.
Punts were introduced at several locations, and while invaluable in calm conditions, were simply unable to operate when the rivers were high and flowing fast, due to the risk of them capsizing or being swept away.
To cross the North Esk with a cart you often had to go to Corra Linn, where a bridge and mill were built in 1822.
In 1830 George Hobler, at his own expense, built Hobler's Bridge.
There is no doubt he saved many lives and much effort for the public.
Then in 1834 Mr Griffiths finished the centrally located Tamar Street bridge, contracted by the government for £300 plus a land grant.
These were obviously a great boon for the many residents in Launceston, but knowledge of their construction provided little comfort for those living out in the country who still needed to use Clark's Ford.
After heavy rains in 1833 two men drowned trying to reach Evan Thomas' Manderville farm.
He'd long been agitating for a footbridge to be built, offering to contribute to the cost.
In 1844 a man named Charlie Shrimpton drowned while trying to cross.
He lost his footing and was, unfortunately, swept away.
A fisherman stretched out his rod as Charlie floated past, but he was too exhausted to take it.
At this time John Tucker was building a flour mill on the west side of the river, together with a loose stone dam over the ford to provide a head of water.
This changed the flow and riverbed and a small island was washed away.
Fortunately people could still cross the river immediately below the dam.
Men, horses and carts continued to be lost, notably Robert Gleadow in 1859, who'd just been made a partner in his famous father's legal firm.
This may have been the impetus for a footbridge built soon after.
The need of a substantial bridge became an absolute necessity with the arrival of the train.
The river separated St Leonards from its station.
A public meeting was called in 1871 and it was decided to borrow up to £1000 from the government to build a bridge, to be repaid from rates.
They awarded Sam Pinnington the contract and it opened in 1872.
People still used the ford to collect fresh water though, and several drownings occurred
In 1890 an engineer decided the bridge wasn't worth repairing and a new one was built alongside.
Clark's Ford remained a hugely popular picnic and swimming spot.
One hot summer weekend in 1924 there were 3,000 people there
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