Spanning the River Creuse, the Terrade bridge soon became a vital crossing in the town of Aubusson.
It was initially constructed in wood, comprising two bays most likely supported by a central stone column.
Its strategic position was defended by two bridgeheads, which were constructed at the end of the 15th century.
Until the end of the 18th century, the bridge supported the Clermont-Ferrand road towards Limoges. A wide variety of goods were transported across the bridge, particularly salt which was a valuable commodity. Fittingly, from 1553 onwards La Marche and Limousin were exempt from paying tax on salt. This privilege prompted smuggling with the neighbouring provinces impacted by the tax. The bridges were also kept under surveillance by squadrons of archers whilst the bridgeheads served as guardhouses.
In the 17th century the former wooden bridge, which had then reached a bad state of repair, was replaced by a stone bridge using materials from the Château d’Aubusson, which was demolished on Cardinal Richelieu’s orders as it was considered to be a Protestant stronghold.
In the period just before the Revolution, approximately four or five hundred mules passed over the bridge each day in search of salt.
The bridge became less important when the new road between Clermont-Ferrand and Limoges was completed in 1809, featuring a crossing via the Récollets bridge, or New Bridge.
The bridgehead once located at the gateway to the bridge from the right bank is no longer there today, having been destroyed in 1903 in order to create a ramp leading onto the quay. Postcards dating back to the early 20th century grant us a restoration of this feature.
The bridgehead on the left bank, however, is still in existence today. It has retained its circular tower with chestnut shingle-covered cone-shaped roof.
The interior of the bridgehead contains a workshop for the restoration of tapestry cartoons. It is connected by a walkway to the Museum of Tapestry Cartoons, housed within a small cluster of 3 houses.
Today the Terrade bridge is one of Aubusson’s most iconic structures. It was restored in 2009.