This large bridge which carries railway traffic on an upper deck, and road and pedestrian traffic on a lower deck is one of the largest cast iron bridges in the UK. From a distance the bridge has an impressive yet graceful appearance. The lower deck passes through the cast iron arches with the upper deck positioned above the arches. The bridge is a tied arch, and under the deck, hidden behind a decorative cast iron deck fascia, are three bundles of eyebars on each side of the deck which form the tie. Two pairs of arch ribs, one pair on each side of the roadway, form the arch structure. Each pair of arch ribs is joined by a complex and aesthetically pleasing system of bracing which can be appreciated by users of the walkway. From up close, such as on the walkways, an impressively complex arrangement of cast iron segments are all fit together like pieces of an enormous puzzle to form this bridge. The size and complexity of this bridge makes the cast iron details particularly impressive.
This bridge has been carefully preserved in a unique manner, which has retained the majority of the original bridge design and materials, while carefully concealing modern load-bearing beams that have reduced the load on the original cast iron arches.
An interesting aspect of the design of the bridge is with the columns and hangers. On the lower (road) deck, the vertical members that connect the arch below to the deck function in tension and are hangers. In contrast, any vertical members that rise above the arch and support the upper deck are in compression and are true columns. However, to provide a consistent appearance, the heavy cast iron column design extends below the arches in the "hanger zone" of the bridge. The secret in the design is that hidden inside the columns below the arch ribs there were originally wrought iron bars which were the true hangers and handled the tension forces associated with that function (unlike wrought iron, cast iron does not perform well in tension). In looking at photos of this bridge, additional hanger rods will be seen between the original hanger columns; these additional hanger rods are non-original additions that replaced the original wrought iron hangers.
The main contractor for this bridge was Hawks, Crawshay and Sons of Gateshead, England, while the iron was cast by John Abbot and Company of Park Iron Works, Gateshead, England.
Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings
Listed At: Grade I
List Entry Number: 1248568
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Double-Deck
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