A-Z Challenge 2011 - B
The Bridge at Yarm
There has been a bridge over the River Tees at the North Yorkshire town of Yarm for 800 years. Before 1771 when a new bridge was built at Stockton, Yarm was the nearest place to the North Sea where the river could be crossed, the road from York to Durham passing through the town.
Three arches of Yarm Bridge from downstream - the structure behind is a railway viaduct
Records show there was a bridge at Yarm before 1300 and it is probable that the first timber bridge existed in 1200. The right to bridge tolls (pontage) was granted by the King to the person responsible for making repairs. We know one such pontage was granted by Edward I in 1305.
The bridge too decrepit for use by the end of the century was replaced in stone by Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham, in 1400. Skirlaw’s bridge, repaired many times and widened, still stands and carries road traffic to this day. The original stone bridge had five arches; three of these can still be seen on the upstream side. A drawbridge inserted in the arch on the northern side, in use during the Civil War, was removed in 1785 and the arch rebuilt in its present semi-circular form.
The increasing in traffic by the end of the 18th century led to the decision to replace it with a new single-span iron bridge. However before the new bridge could be opened to the public it collapsed into the river. The old stone bridge was widened and provided with new parapets in 1810. With the addition of pavements each side and a tarmac surface it remains the same 200 years later.
Yarm Bridge in front of railway viaduct