Cultural History Encyclopedia

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Published 07. July 1999

Last update 04. June 2019

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The old vaulted bridge at Maurstad



On the night of 11 October 1984, the more than 100-year-old vaulted bridge at Maurstad collapsed. A road-historical cultural monument was suddenly gone. However, in the autumn of 2000, the bridge had been rebuilt, thanks to local efforts by the protection organization called "Maurstad Gamle Bru".

The old Maurstad Bridge after the re-building in the autumn of 2000.

The old Maurstad Bridge after the re-building in the autumn of 2000.

Owner: Rigmor Navekvien.

Date: 2000.

Photographer: Harald Maurstad.

Bridge on a rural road

The road Bryggja - Åheim across Maurstadeidet was completed in 1866. The road served as a part of a western main road connection. Up through the hamlet of Maurstadgrenda, the road went on the western side of the river Maurstadelva. The old vaulted bridge was located on a rural road from the farms on the eastern side of the river towards the main road. We do not know exactly when the bridge was built, but it was most likely built some time in the first years after the main road across Maurstadeidet was completed.
The bridge seems to have been fully financed by the villagers. An application to the Davik municipality - that Maurstad belonged to before 1964 - from some leaseholders at Maurstad for construction of a bridge in March 1867, was unanimously rejected. No documentation has been found either that the county authorities allocated any money.

The construction

Harald Olsen Maurstad was in charge of the construction work. He had some material that he had intended to be used on a new barn. This material was now used as scaffolding under the vault or arch. However, the bridge constructors failed. The vault was built too flat so the bridge fell down and much material was destroyed. It did not take long until another attempt was made, and this time they succeeded.

Collapsed

The Maurstad Bridge was used more and more as years passed by. The rural road through the Maurstad hamlet became after a while a part of the road connection further in along the fjord and the traffic increased. In 1938, a new road and a new bridge was built closer to the sea, but people still used the old road as it meant a shorter road to school as well as to the main road to the north. During the Second World War, much heavy transport passed across the bridge, and gradually a bend in the vault developed and the bridge started to sag. The night of 11 October 1984, it collapsed. Much of the stone material was destroyed, but people picked up from the river the stones that could still be used.

Protection organization

The Maurstad people had long realized that a comprehensive restoration work was needed to save the bridge. They presented the matter to the cultural heritage committee in Vågsøy, who brought the case to the county office of the Public Roads Administration. People from the Public Roads Administration went on a fact-finding tour to Maurstad in the summer of 1984. A report written by Rasmus Værn, dated 18 September 1984, concludes that it is necessary to take down the bridge vault and rebuild it, and that the construction work has to be financed by various sources. He also points out that positive experience has been gained elsewhere when local welfare organizations have taken the initiative to carry out this type of restoration work.
The villagers acted promptly. The Maurstad Youth Association established the protection organization Gamle Maurstad Bru shortly before the bridge collapsed. However, the organization did not "collapse". People worked hard to raise money, promote the project, and get the public authorities involved. People from the Public Roads Administration came on new fact-finding tours and helped with their advice and guidance.

"New" bridge autumn 2000

In the summer of 2000 the bank account of the organization Maurstad Gamle Bru was solid enough to employ people for the second time to build a stone bridge across the river Maurstadelva. The commission was given to "Norsk Bygg og Innredning A/S" which accepted to do the job for close to 300.000 kroner. First they had to make the scaffolding of the bridge vault, then they laid the supporting stone layer, and finally, strengthened the whole construction with reinforced concrete. The "new" vaulted bridge was completed in the autumn of 2000, thanks to the local initiative and great efforts from the villagers of Maurstadgrenda!

See geometric position on detailed map at Fylkesatlas or on a 3D-map at Google Maps by clicking on the 3D-button down to the right at the Google-map.

resources:

Det norske Veivæsens Historie 1820-1914. Bd 1, 1896.
Fjordenes Tidende. 24.12.1984, 23.05.1997, julenummer 2000.
Navekviven/Owesen/Sollibakke: Ved Maurstad gamle bru. Vise. 1984.
Rigmor Navekviven, Vågsøy.
Davik kommunearkiv:
Møtebok, formannskapet, 1837-1873.
Statens Vegvesen, Sogn og Fjordane vegkontor:
Omslagsmappe med diverse dokumentasjon merka Maurstad bru.

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