Heritage Locations

Queen Alexandra Bridge, Sunderland


Iconic steel truss bridge carrying rail, road and pedestrians listed Grade II.

Constructor:
Unclassified

Period of construction:
1900 - 1949

Transport Trust plaque:
No

Transport Mode:
Road

Address:

Pallion New Road, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear SR4 6DD


Postcode:
SR4 6DD

Nearest Town:
Sunderland

Heritage Centre:
No


The Queen Alexandra Bridge is a road traffic, pedestrian and (former) rail bridge spanning the River Wear in North East England, linking Sunderland's former shipbuilding and glass producing areas of Deptford and Southwick. The steel truss structure was designed by Charles A. Harrison, a nephew of Robert Stephenson's assistant. It was built by Sir William Arrol between 1907 and 1909 and officially opened by The Earl of Durham, on behalf of Queen Alexandra on June 10, 1909.

In 1899 the North Eastern Railway Company and the Sunderland Corporation agreed to build the bridge to improve communications across the river and to connect the coalfields of Annfield Plain and Washington with Sunderland's south docks. Before the completion of the bridge, road traffic crossing the river had to use one of two ferries which crossed below near to where the bridge is today. As the bridge was due to be built near to the successful shipyards of the Wear, a clause in the North Eastern Railway Act 1900 required that only one arch span be built over the river to give a clearance of 85 feet above high water level.

The approaches to the bridge were completed in 1907 by the Mitchell Brothers of Glasgow and the bridge proper comprises three 61 m (200 ft) land spans (weighing 1,000 tonnes of steel each) and a 91m (300 ft) river span (weighing 2,600 tonnes of steel) and was the heaviest bridge in the United Kingdom at the time. The bridge was built from each side of the river and the two halves came together at noon on 15 October 1908. In all, a total of 8,500 tonnes of steel, 4,500 tonnes of granite, 60,000 tonnes of red sandstone from Dumfries, and 350,000 bricks were used and the cost of completion was £450,000. The bridge also housed gas and water mains and in later years, high voltage electricity cables and a pumped rising-main for sewage.

About six million tonnes of coal passed over the upper-deck annually for export but the trade rapidly declined at the end of the First World War. For the last few years only one train per day passed over the bridge. The last goods train ran over in 1921, but the lower-deck continues to be utilised as a valuable road link. In the Second World War, the upper-deck was used as a searchlight and anti-aircraft platform. The railway and decking at each end of the bridge were finally removed at the end of the 20th century. A large free standing brick and stone viaduct fragment remains on the north side of the Bridge. The road was closed for eighteen months until October 2006 while the structure was repaired and repainted.


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, Cambridge University Press, ISBN O 5210 3391 8 (1972)

Barker, Theo, The Rise and Rise of Road Transport, 1700-1990, Cambridge University Press, ISBN-10 0521557739 (1995)

Codrington, Thomas, Roman Roads in Britain: Early Britain, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN-10 0548240310 (2007)

Davies, Hugh, Roads in Roman Britain, History Press, ISBN-10 0752425030 (2008)

Davies, Hugh, Roman Roads, Shire, ISBN-10 074780690X (2008)

Harrison, David, The Bridges of Medieval England: Transport and Society 400-1800, Oxford University Press, ISBN-10: 0199226857 (2007)

Hindle, P., Roads and Tracks for Historians, Phillimore & Co, ISBN-10: 1860771823 (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)

Johnston, David, An Illustrated History of Roman Roads in Britain, Spur Books, ISBN-10 0904978338 (1979)

Peel, J. H. B., Along the Roman Roads of Britain, Macmillan, ISBN-10: 0330239309 (1976)

Sheldon, G., From Trackway to Turnpike, Oxford University Press, ASIN B001N2GS2S (1928)

Smiles, Samuel, The Life of Thomas Telford Civil Engineer with an Introductory History of Roads and Travelling in Great Britain (1867), The Echo Library, ISBN-10: 1406805866 (2006)

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



Opening Times:
Unrestricted

How To Find:

By road: On A1231

 


Facilities:


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