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With meadows along the Lea, and elsewhere interspersed in the arable, Hackney in the 1790s was noted for its cowkeepers and as a supplier of hay to London.
The name Cow Bridge presumably refers to the cattle that were once permitted to graze on the marshes for part of the year under ancient lammas land grazing rights.
The older reinforced concrete bridge was recently adapted and widened, but is probably inter-war. It is located on or near an earlier bridge across Pond Lane Lock and the Waterworks Aqueduct that ran parallel. The lock on the navigation has long since been removed and the aqueduct infilled. Pond Lane is the former name of Millfields Road. The River Lee trustees provided ways over the Hackney cut. In 1803, the trustees objected to repairing a bridge at the end of Cow or Pond Lane (later Millfields Road).
The newly adapted road, pedestrian and cycle bridge was designed in a collaboration between Amin Taha Architects with Webb Yates Engineers. This team also worked on an unimplemented design for a new pedestrian, cycle and equestrian bridge between Hackney Marsh and East Marsh.
The new road bridge span is a simple steel truss structure with a flat deck inserted between the existing abutments and approach ramps, which were retained for cost reasons.
The footbridge and cycle way is slung from one side of the main road bridge and is a simple curving truss structure painted lime green, the colour chosen by project engineer Steve Webb.
The River Lee trustees provided a bridge at Homerton (in 1842 Marshgate) bridge. By 1842, the Commissioners had provided Bricklock bridge, for a lock house south of Cow Bridge.