Heritage Locations

Yarm Bridge


A medieval bridge over the river Tees at what was formerly the lowest crossing point.

Constructor:
Unclassified

Period of construction:
1000 - 1599

Transport Trust plaque:
No

Transport Mode:
Road

Address:
George and Dragon, High Street, Yarm, TS15 9AH

Postcode:
TS15 9AH

Nearest Town:
Yarm

Heritage Centre:
No


This stone bridge joins the village of Yarm to Egglescliffe on the north bank of the Tees. It was built by Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham in 1400. In 1803 the stone bridge was replaced by a new iron one. This new bridge collapsed soon after it was built on the 12th January 1806. Fortunately the old bridge had not been destroyed and stands to this day.

Yarm bridge, which dates from 1400, was at one time the lowest bridging point of the River Tees and the limit of the tidal section. Visitors to Yarm today are often surprised that this was for centuries a thriving port, the nearest on the Tees to the North Sea, and the lowest bridging point across the river. The 15-mile route from Yarm to the sea was long and tortuous, with vessels taking up to four tides over the journey and often running aground.

Stockton began to make a play for the Tees boat trade, an initiative followed in the 19th Century by the newly-created town of Middlesbrough, which eventually usurped both Yarm and Stockton. This was a cruelly ironic outcome for Yarm since it was in the George and Dragon Inn there, on 12 February 1820, that the principal moves were made to create the Stockton & Darlington Railway. This led ultimately to the expansion of first Stockton, then Middlesbrough and to the demise of the port of Yarm.

The first known bridge across the Tees at Yarm was built in about 1200AD and was replaced 200 years later by the stone one financed by Bishop Walter Skirlaw of Durham. Although now wider than it was in his day and much-repaired down the ages, it is still one of the principal bridges between Yorkshire and Durham. Travellers used to have to pay a toll to use it and in former times it was traditionally closed between midnight on Saturday until midnight on Sunday. Before 1825, throughout Sunday evenings, coal carts lined up on the Yarm side ready to cross the bridge at midnight to rush to collect coal from the Durham mines. The first to arrive there were the first to be served on Monday morning.


Bibliography:

Addison, Sir William, The Old Roads of England, Batsford, ISBN 0 7134 1714 5 (1980)

Albert, W., The Turnpike Road System in England 1663- 1840. Camb. Univ. Press. ISBN O 5210 3391 8 (1972)

Harrison, David, The Bridges of Medieval England. Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-922685-6 (2004)

Hindle, P., Roads and Tracks for Historians. Phillimore & Co., ISBN 1 86077 182 3 (2001)

Hindley, G., History of the Roads. Peter Davies, ISBN 0 8065 0290 8 (1971)

Jackson, Gibbard, From Track to Highway. Nicholson and Watson, ASIN B00085R4D8 (1935)

Jervoise, E., Ancient Bridges of England. Architectural Press. ASIN B00085PLDI (1932)

Sheldon, G., From Trackway to Turnpike. Oxfd. Univ. Press. ASIN B001N2GS2S(1928)

Taylor, C., Roads and Tracks of Britain. Littlehampton Book Services Ltd, ISBN 0 460 04329 3 (1979)



Opening Times:
Open at all times.

How To Find:
The A67 crosses the river Tees by the bridge. It is also visible from the parallel railway viaduct

Facilities:


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