Historical account - Willington Dene and Ouseburn Viaducts


1837 January 13. - "This being the day appointed for laying the foundations of the two great bridges over the Ouseburn and Willington Dean, on the line of the Newcastle and North Shields Railway, John Hodgson Hinde, esq., M.P., vice-chairman, proceeded to Willington Dean, where he was met, at twelve o’clock, by a number of directors and shareholders, the engineer, architect, etc. The preliminary arrangements having been made, Mr. Hodgson Hinde shortly addressed those present, informing them that he attended there that day as the deputy of Matthew Bell, esq., M.P., the chairman of the company, by whom it had been arranged that the foundation of that stupendous structure should have been laid, but who, he was sorry to say, was prevented by severe indisposition from attending. He then read the inscription on the brass plate to be deposited in the foundation. The inscription stated that the foundation-stone of that bridge was laid on the 13th of January, 1837, by M. Bell, esq., M.P., and enumerated the names of the chairman, vice-chairman, and directors, of Mr. Green, the architect of the bridge, Mr. Nicholson, engineer to the railroad, Mr. John Straker, consulting engineer, and Mr. W. Swan, clerk. The plate, together with several coins of the present reign, was then placed between glass plates, and plaster being poured upon them, Mr. Hinde spread it around with a silver trowel. The stone was then placed on its bed, and the usual ceremonies being gone through, nine hearty cheers were then given, and the proceedings terminated. The bridges are of great extent and of peculiar construction, the arches being formed of laminated timber. That over Willington Dean is 1,050 feet long, and 76 feet high in the centre, and consists of seven segmental timber arches, each 120 feet span, supporting a wooden platform, with stone piers and abutments. The Onseburn bridge is 800 feet long and 188 feet high, and has five similar arches of 116 feet span. The erections were finished in May, 1839, and had a very light and beautiful appearance."

From: T Fordyce, J. Sykes. Local records; or, Historical register of remarkable events which have occurred in Northumberland and Durham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Berwick-upon-Tweed..., published 1867

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