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Whorlton Bridge

Whorlton Bridge on the River Tees, County Durham © Metaforz Photography 2013The elegant suspension bridge at Whorlton was designed and constructed in 1831 by architects John and Benjamin Green after an earlier attempt was swept away in a flood on the 13th October 1829. It is believed to be the oldest of its type in Britain still to be supported on its original chains.

The bridge and the toll house that stands at the north end were built to serve the turnpike road that allowed coal from local pits to be profitably transported into Yorkshire. Before this a ford had existed some way downstream opposite Wycliffe whilst a pre-established ferry service continued to operate for 20 years after the bridge was built. To prevent non-payers from using the bridge, heavy iron gates were installed between the piers next to the toll house.

The bridge links the parishes of Whorlton and Wycliffe-with-Thorpe and has a span of almost 53 m. Its impressive wrought iron chains support a wood planked roadway 10 m above the River Tees and the whole lot is suspended over sandstone pillars at each end; consequently a weight limit on modern day traffic is strictly enforced.

Whorlton Bridge spans the River Tees south of the village of Whorlton in County Durham (OS Grid Ref NZ 106145)