Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Winston Bridge (NZ142162)

© Copyright Hugh Mortimer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Winston Bridge straddles the River Tees at a point which may once have been bridged by the Romans. There was certainly a medieval bridge dating from around 1424, though the current effort was thrown up in the 1760s.

It is a rather special structure in that at the time of its erection it was the largest single-span stone bridge in England – and most probably, in fact, the whole of Europe. It was the work of amateur architect, Sir Thomas Robinson, and measures some 112ft (34m). Impressively, it was one of a handful of bridges on the Tees to survive the Great Flood of 1771.

It is built from hard blue ragstone – which means that the material, astonishingly, came from Kent – though even this robust old structure has recently been strengthened by the addition of iron bolts (which can be clearly discerned in the picture above). It once played a crucial role in the transportation of coal from Durham to Yorkshire, but the rise of the railways soon put pay to that. Still, though, it rose to fame again as recently as 1988 when a Spitfire was flown through its airy expanse for the TV war drama A Piece of Cake – an impressive piece of footage which was then reused in the even more recent Foyle’s War.

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