Ancient Monuments

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Hexham Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Acomb, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.9766 / 54°58'35"N

Longitude: -2.0942 / 2°5'39"W

OS Eastings: 394068.667037

OS Northings: 564672.916747

OS Grid: NY940646

Mapcode National: GBR FBTW.DT

Mapcode Global: WHB2C.S5YP

Entry Name: Hexham Bridge

Scheduled Date: 3 July 1964

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002905

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 122

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Acomb

Built-Up Area: Hexham

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Hexham

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Summary

Hexham Bridge, 200m SSW of Bridge End.

Source: Historic England

Details

This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 16 May 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a bridge of 18th century date, which spans the River Tyne at Hexham. The bridge is constructed from tooled and margined ashlar masonry. It has nine arches of which the central arch is the widest with the remainder decreasing in width from the centre outwards. The arches are segmental with narrow chamfers and stepped keystones, except for the outermost pair which are of three-centred form with alternating rusticated voussoirs. The piers of the bridge have chamfered bases and triangular cutwaters with stepped tops below blind keyed oculi in the spandrels of the arches. The parapets have shallow pilasters above the crowns of the arches and at each end splay out to form wing walls with octagonal end piers, except on one side of the north end where the wing wall has been replaced by railings. On the east face of the northern abutment a date of 1795 is inscribed.

There is a long history of attempts to bridge the River Tyne at Hexham. First documentary reference to a bridge occurs in 1263 and subsequently in 1324. These bridges did not last and during the 15th and 16th centuries the main form of crossing was by ferry. The opening of the Hexham to Alnmouth turnpike in 1751 necessitated a new bridge at Hexham. A bridge of seven arches was completed in 1770 but was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1771. This bridge was replaced by a nine arch bridge built in 1780 and designed by John Smeaton, but the bridge was destroyed in winter floods in 1782. All of these previous bridges spanned the River Tyne at different points. The current bridge was built by William Johnson and Robert Thompson, following Smeaton’s previous bridge designs but with piling and other measures to improve its stability. The bridge was completed between 1793 and 1795. In 1967 the parapets were moved from their original position in order to widen the bridge to allow foot passengers. Hexham Bridge is a listed building Grade II*.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Multi span bridges are structures of two or more arches supported on piers. They were constructed throughout the medieval and earlier post-medieval period for the use of pedestrians and packhorse or vehicular traffic, crossing rivers or streams, often replacing or supplementing earlier fords. During the early medieval period timber was used, but from the 12th century stone (and later brick) bridges became more common, with the piers sometimes supported by a timber raft. Most stone or brick bridges were constructed with pointed arches, although semi-circular and segmental examples are also known. The bridge abutments and revetting of the river banks also form part of the bridge. Where medieval bridges have been altered in later centuries, original features are sometimes concealed behind later stonework, including remains of earlier timber bridges. The roadway was often originally cobbled or gravelled. The building and maintenance of bridges was frequently carried out by the church and by guilds, although landowners were also required to maintain bridges.

Hexham Bridge is an important landmark and an element of the long history of attempts to span the River Tyne at Hexham. Its construction is closely linked to development of the turnpike road and is indicative of the effects the roads had on local economy, infrastructure and communication.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
PastScape Monument No:- 18694

Source: Historic England

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