Heritage Locations

Victoria Viaduct, Penshaw

Rail bridge spanning the River Wear which carried the Leamside Line.


Period of construction:
1800 - 1849

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

Penshaw, Washington, Tyne & Wear


Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

The Victoria Viaduct is a rail bridge spanning the River Wear which carried the Leamside Line. Commissioned by the Durham Junction Railway, the bridge was designed by Thomas Elliot Harrison.

It was based upon the Roman bridge at Alcántara, Spain. Built from 1836-8, the viaduct was named after the new monarch, Queen Victoria, and was officially opened on 28 June 1838, her Coronation Day. It did not open to traffic until 1839. The rails passed 41m (135 ft) over the valley, carried on four great arches. The middle two arches span 49m (160 ft)and 44m (144 ft), and the arches beside them span 30m (100 ft). In addition, there are three 6m (20 ft) approach arches on both ends. Of the extant masonry railway viaducts in Britain, the Victoria has the second longest single span, exceeded only by the Ballochmyle Viaduct.

The bridge formed part of the main line linking Newcastle upon Tyne and London until the line was routed through Durham in 1872. The line was closed to passenger trains following the Beeching Axe. The bridge continued to carry freight until the closure of the freight terminal at nearby Follingsby in 1991, following which the bridge was mothballed. On 4 December 2006, Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority announced that it had commissioned a study into the future use of the line, with a view to possible re-opening as a suburban railway linking into the local transport network.


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Opening Times:

Permanently viewable.

How To Find:

By road: Off A195/Staithes Road or via Coxgreen off A183 Chester Road.

By foot: Approach from the Weardale Way footpath, near Lambton.


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