ONE of the most daring military actions during one of the most significant battles in England’s domestic history has been marked by a newly unveiled feature just south of Worcester, where the rivers Severn and Teme come together.

The bridges of boats built by Oliver Cromwell to allow his forces to cross the waterways and outflank the army of King Charles II were a tactical masterstroke and a pivotal moment during the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The subsequent Parliamentarian victory brought to an end the English Civil War and sent the king scurrying abroad to France.

Now a new information panel and platform has been built near the spot where the bridges were erected, emphasising the historic importance of the location.

The project has involved the Battle of Worcester Heritage Partnership, the Duckworth Trust, Battle of Worcester Society, Battlefields Trust and several other bodies.

Grant Simmonds, chairman of the Battle of Worcester Heritage Partnership, said: “The bridges of boats played a significant part in Cromwell’s success at Worcester and it is hoped the Information Board, which is a few 100 yards north of the Ketch Caravan Park, will attract walkers and English Civil War enthusiasts alike.”

It was not the first time such a military tactic had been used, but it was rarely tried when the soldiers building the bridges were within gunshot range of the enemy.

Previously it had only usually been attempted when the tricky manoeuvre could be carried out unhindered. Either under cover of darkness or when the opposition was some distance away.

But on September 3, 1651, Cromwell ordered his troops to build the first bridge across the Severn at two o’clock in the afternoon, in full view of the Royalists on the other bank.

Having been put in place, his troops swarmed across the wooden structure and laid into the King’s forces, distracting them enough to allow the second bridge, this time across the Teme, to be erected “within a musket shot” of the first.

The bridges were built by numerous small boats being placed side by side across the river and planks set across them to make a temporary roadway along which men and horses could pass.

The boats were either sailed up the Severn or brought overland on horse drawn carts.

The Battle of Worcester was the only time such a risky operation under fire – seen as Cromwell’s most daring military manoeuvre – was used in the Civil War.

With both bridges in position the Parliamentarians looked to press home their advantage and attack Worcester from the south.

But at 4pm news reached Cromwell to say the Royalists had successfully counter attacked on the east of the city (modern day Battenhall and Fort Royal).

So the boat bridges came into play for a second time when the Roundheads were able to swiftly re-cross them and head down Bath Road to crush the breakout.

Victory was not long following.