11 of the best bridges in Northumberland

Royal Border Bridge, Berwick
Royal Border Bridge, Berwick

Berwick’s Royal Border Bridge is always a magnificent sight but it took on special significance when it was illuminated in the colours of the French Tricolore after the Paris terror attacks.

Images of it lit red, white and blue as a mark of respect were shared worldwide.

Union Chain Bridge, Horncliffe

Union Chain Bridge, Horncliffe

It got us thinking that Northumberland is blessed with some wonderful bridges. Here we take a closer look at some of our favourites.

1. Royal Border Bridge – Berwick-upon-Tweed

Royal Border Bridge spans the River Tweed between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Tweedmouth. It is a Grade I listed railway viaduct built between 1847 and 1850, when it was opened by Queen Victoria. It was designed by Robert Stephenson (son of George Stephenson).

The bridge is 659 metres (2,162 ft) long and constructed in stone except for brick soffits to the arches. It has 28 arches, each spanning 60 feet (18m).

The Old Bridge, Berwick

The Old Bridge, Berwick

To mark its 160th anniversary it was fitted with colour changing lights, providing a beautiful night time display.

2. Union Chain Bridge - Horncliffe

Staying in the far north of the county, the Union Chain Bridge straddles the River Tweed and the border between England and Scotland, some five miles west of Berwick.

It was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1820 with a span of 137 metres (449 ft) and was the first vehicular bridge of its type in the United Kingdom.

Coldstream Bridge

Coldstream Bridge

Although work started on the Menai Suspension Bridge first, Union Bridge was completed earlier. Today it is the oldest suspension bridge still carrying road traffic.

The Friends of Union Chain Bridge are hoping that restoration work can be carried out before its bicentenary in 2020.

3. Old Bridge - Berwick-upon-Tweed

Berwick Bridge, also known as the Old Bridge, spans the River Tweed in Berwick. The current structure is a Grade I listed stone bridge built between 1611 and 1624.

Weetwood Bridge

Weetwood Bridge

Prior to the construction of the stone bridge, the crossing was served by a series of wooden bridges. which were variously destroyed by flooding and military action.

The bridge became less important for road traffic as the main route moved westwards, first to the Royal Tweed Bridge built in the 1920s, and then in the 1980s a bypass took the A1 road out of Berwick altogether.

However, southbound traffic is still permitted to use the Old Bridge with a weight restriction in place.

4. Coldstream Bridge

A fourth offering over the River Tweed, Coldstream Bridge is an 18th-century Grade II* listed bridge which carries the A697 road.

Its architect John Smeaton (responsible for the third Eddystone Lighthouse), working for the Tweed Bridges Trust. Construction lasted from 1763 to 1767, when it opened.

The Lion Bridge in front of Alnwick Castle

The Lion Bridge in front of Alnwick Castle

A plaque on the bridge commemorates the 1787 visit of the poet Robert Burns to the Coldstream. Of historical note is the toll house on the Scottish side of the bridge, which became infamous for the runaway marriages that took place there, as at Gretna Green, hence its name, the ‘Wedding House’ or ‘Marriage House’.

5. Weetwood Bridge, nr Wooler

Weetwood Bridge has been much altered over its existence but is thought to have first been constructed as a crossing point over the River Till during the early 16th Century.

The bridge lies on the direct route from Wooler Haugh where the Earl of Surrey’s army camped on the 7th September 1513 prior to the Battle of Flodden. It would have offered the army the best crossing point over the Till.

6. Lion Bridge, Alnwick

The bridge is situated on the outskirts of Alnwick and spans the River Aln in three arches, replacing an earlier bridge destroyed in a flood in 1770. It is called the Lion Bridge because it has a sculpture of the Percy Lion.

7. Lesbury New Bridge

The new bridge was part of a £3.1 million scheme of road and bridge improvements on the A1068 road from Amble to Alnwick, and replaced the old bridge in 2004. It is of a strikingly modern design by Northumberland County Council with its bowstring arches leaning away from the roadway.

8. Rothbury Stepping Stones

Not strictly a bridge, this one, but a river crossing nonetheless. Rothbury’s stepping stones across the Coquet are circular and are spaced quite close together, providing an easy way to cross the river - providing it is not running too high. Morpeth has similar stones across the Wansbeck.

9. Telford Bridge, Morpeth

Probably the best known and most handsome bridge on the Wansbeck, it carries the main A197 road, formerly the A1. Work on it was supervised by famed engineer Thomas Telford.

10. Kielder Viaduct

Kielder Viaduct consists of seven semi-circular masonry skew arches and was built in 1862 by the North British Railway to carry the Border Counties Line across marshy land, which following flooding to create Kielder Water, became the place where Deadwater Burn joins Bakethin Reservoir. Now closed to rail traffic, the bridge is currently used as a footpath.

11. Corbridge Bridge

Corbridge Bridge is a 17th-century stone bridge across the River Tyne. It is listed as a Grade I building by Historic England. The bridge at Corbridge was built in 1235. In 1674 it was replaced by the seven-arched bridge we see today.

Lesbury New Bridge

Lesbury New Bridge

Rothbury Stepping Stones

Rothbury Stepping Stones

Telford Bridge, Morpeth

Telford Bridge, Morpeth

Kielder Viaduct

Kielder Viaduct

Corbridge Bridge

Corbridge Bridge