The name of Eamont (the river) comes from either the Saxon word Ea meaning water, or the megalithic word Ea who was the god of the underground spring and the word Mont, meaning hill or mountain – water from the mountain.
Under Norman rule Yanwath and Bridge (as it was called then) was allotted to the Barony of Westmorland. Bridge became Eamont Bridge and was eventually owned by the Brougham family on the West side of the road and the Carleton Cowpers on the East.
The presence of a bridge at Eamont is recorded in 1303 when the boundaries of Inglewood forest were described–and so going down by the same way unto the bridge of Amote.
The bridge over the Eamont was rebuilt in 1425 on the orders of Thomas Langley bishop of Durham in the reign of Henry 6th. part of the cost being met by “papal indulgence”, when a quarantine of 40 days was granted to those of the faithful who contributed towards its erection.
The current bridge was built on the site of an older bridge mentioned in the late 13th century, the famous High Street crosses here. The roads were little more than dirt tracks since nothing had been done about their up keep since the Romans left and the roads of Westmorland were said to be among the worst in the country.
Sometime, in around 1690 parishes were made responsible for their highways. Farmers and others were expected to give 5 days unpaid labour every year to maintain them. A turnpike trust was set up in 1752 for the road from Heron Syke on the Westmorland border, through Kendal and Shap to Eamont Bridge .
Eamont bridge from the Westmorland side
The first stagecoach between Carlisle and Kendal ran in 1763 with an average speed of 5 to 6 miles per hour. In 1777, 12 families lived in the village and by 1911 the population had risen to 307.
Most of the weirs from whence the power came have since been destroyed and the dam at Low Mill was lowered to stop the village from flooding, but in years gone by Mrs Carleton Cowper wouldn’t allow the weir to be lowered and the people living near the bridge used to live upstairs when the river flooded.
It’s recorded that in 1787 there was a ford near Lowther bridge known as Brandwath which means broad ford
Another danger of living near the river bridge was the continual risk of vehicles crashing. One accident in the 1940s ended with a lorry demolishing part of the back kitchen roof of a house next to the bridge. The news article below shows another accident on the bridge, where a southbound lorry crashed 20 foot into a sandpit where children had been playing only minutes before. It ploughed down 30 foot of wall before plunging over the bridge. The driver Mr Edward Little escaped through the shattered windscreen.
The height of the bridge was eventually altered by raising the level of the road on the Penrith side of the river and the stone pillars were re-enforced with concrete.