Industrial Heritage Online

Industrial Heritage Online

Tees Rail Bridges

The first rail bridge across the R Tees was a 85.75m span suspension bridge used chains patented by Captain Samuel Brown RN and was completed in 1830. Sensibly, it was decided to test the bridge before using it. Just as well, as it proved a failure. The bridge was unable to carry the load that it was designed for it had to be propped using timber trestles set in the bed of the river.
In 1844 the suspension bridge was replaced by a five span bridge designed by Robert Stephenson. This was unusual in that the central three spans had iron compound girders 27.13m long built up from 9.15m long castings bolted together end to end. Wrought iron tie rods anchored at the ends were used to resist the tensile forces which otherwise would have overstressed the cast iron bottom flange. Conventional cast iron girders were used for the 9.45m spans at each end of the bridge.
On 24 May 1847 the failure of a similar bridge over the Dee at Chester resulted in all bridges of this type having to be strengthened. At Stockton inclined shores from the piers to the third points of the girders were installed. A further failure in Scotland in 1882 resulted in the use of cast iron for main line railway bridges being prohibited by the Board of Trade, so this bridge had to be replaced. Fortunately a plan to add a further two tracks to the line was already well under way and a riveted wrought iron plate girder bridge was quickly built alongside.
In 1906 the cast iron girders were removed and riveted mild steel plate girders were erected in their place. The new girders being supported on the original masonry piers. This bridge continued in use until 2003 when the wrought iron bridge of 1882, which had been out of use since the 1930s, was replaced and the rail-tracks transferred.

Morris C.H. 2000. Bridges over the Tees. Cleveland Industrial Archaeologist Society. Research Report No 7.
Morris C.H. 2008. Tees Bridge Watch 1998-2007. Cleveland Industrial Archaeologist. No. 32.

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Key Words :- railway bridge river tees
Linked Sites :- ,
Address :- Thornaby Place, Stockton, Stockton, North Yorkshire, TS17 6SG
Grid Ref :- NZ 44690 17950
Co-ordinates :- Lat - 54.554827 , Long - -1.310533
Local Authority :- Stockton B C
Pre 1974 County :- Yorkshire North Riding
Site Status :- Site extant - Protected status unknown
Site Dates :- 1830 -