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The Causey Arch is a bridge near Stanley in County Durham, northern England. It is the oldest surviving single-arch railway bridge in the world, and a key element of the industrial heritage of England. It carried an early waggonway (horse drawn carts on wooden rails) to transport coal. The line was later diverted, and no longer uses the bridge.
It was built in 1725–26 by stonemason Ralph Wood, funded by a conglomeration of coal-owners known as the "Grand Allies" (founded by Colonel Liddell and the Hon. Charles Montague and George Bowes the owner of Gibside Estate on which the bridge is situated) at a cost of £12,000. Two tracks crossed the Arch: one (the "main way") to take coal to the River Tyne, and the other (the "bye way") for returning the empty wagons. Over 900 horse-drawn wagons crossed the arch each day using the Tanfield Railway.
When the bridge was completed in 1726, it was the longest single-span bridge in the country with an arch span of 31 metres (102 ft), a record it held for thirty years until 1756 when the Old Bridge was built in Pontypridd, Wales. After he designed the bridge, Ralph Wood was so afraid that his arch would collapse that he committed suicide, but the bridge still stands today.
The Arch has been Grade I listed since 1950. It was restored and reinforced in the 1980s. There are a series of scenic public paths around the area and the Causey Burn which runs underneath it. The quarry near the bridge is a popular spot for local rock climbers.
- Skempton, A.W. (2002) Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Volume 1, 1500–1830, p 791–792. Published by Thomas Telford Ltd.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Causey Arch.|
- Waggonway Research Circle
- Causey Arch Picnic Area, a leaflet produced by Durham County Council
- Durham Mining Museum Archives
- Causey Arch at structurae
- Tanfield Waggonway at Sunniside Local History Group