Grant awarded for repairs to bridge abutments

Historic England has awarded Durham County Council a £161,000 grant to repair the remains of the world’s first iron railway bridge. 

Completed in 1823, Gaunless Bridge was designed by George Stephenson to span the River Gaunless in West Auckland, forming part of a line serving Witton Park Colliery.

The bridge remained in use until 1901, when it was no longer able to bear the weight of increasingly heavy coal wagons.

The structure was subsequently dismantled, although the stone abutments remained in place and now form part of the Stockton & Darlington Railway Scheduled Monument. 

The grant from HE will be used to repair the abutments so that they can support a new bridge deck. This will form part of the new 26-mile Stockton & Darlington Railway walking and cycling route that will open in the build-up to the route’s bicentenary in 2025.

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