Monkwearmouth Railway Bridge

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Coordinates: 54°54′36″N 1°23′01″W / 54.9099°N 1.3835°W / 54.9099; -1.3835 (Wearmouth railway bridge)

Monkwearmouth railway bridge
Wearmouth Bridge, Sunderland.jpg
Wearmouth Rail Bridge (left), Wearmouth road bridge (right), 2006
Coordinates 54°54′36″N 1°23′01″W / 54.9099°N 1.3835°W / 54.9099; -1.3835Coordinates: 54°54′36″N 1°23′01″W / 54.9099°N 1.3835°W / 54.9099; -1.3835
Carries Rail, 2 tracks
Crosses River Wear
Locale Sunderland, England
Heritage status Grade II listed
Design Vierendeel truss bowstring arch
Longest span 300ft
Clearance below 86ft
Opened 1879

The Monkwearmouth railway bridge (also Sunderland railway bridge or Wearmouth railway bridge) is a rail bridge built 1879 crossing the River Wear at Sunderland and Monkwearmouth. The bridge lies adjacent to and upstream of the Wearmouth road bridge.

Originally built as part of the Monkwearmouth Junction Line, it provided the first direct railway link between Newcastle and Sunderland. As of 2012, the bridge remains in use and is used by Tyne and Wear Metro and Durham Coast Line services.

History and design[edit]

The bridge as built (from The Engineer, 1880). The 1857 reconstruction of the 1796 Wearmouth Bridge is to the rear

The bridge was built as part of the infrastructure for the Monkwearmouth Junction Line, opened 1879; a connecting line across the wear built to connect the line of the former Brandling Junction Railway at Monkwearmouth to the south bank at Sunderland and the line of the former Durham and Sunderland Railway.[1][2]

The bridge was designed by T.E. Harrison: it consisted of a 300 ft (91 m) main span, an iron bowstring bridge, constructed from box girders connected by a Vierendeel truss with curved corner strengthening to create elliptical voids in the bracing. The iron bridge was supported 86 ft (26 m) above high water level on the Wear. At either end of the bridge were three 25 ft (7.6 m) span masonry arches. Hawks, Crawshay and Sons built the ironwork, John Waddell was contractor for the stonework.[1][2] At the time of its construction it was claimed to be the largest hogsback iron bridge in the world.[3]

The structure was grade II listed in 1978,[3] planning consent was required for alterations to the structure circa 2000 for works relating to Metro construction: for the installation of overhead line electrification;[4] and for the construction of a station (St Peter's Metro station), constructed on the northern approach viaduct of the bridge.[5] In 2007 the bridge underwent repairs and strengthening, including the installation of 45 new transverse beams.[6]


The bridge and railway allowed trains to run directly from Newcastle to Hartlepool, by creating a through line from Newcastle to Sunderland.[1][3]

Since 2002, the bridge has also carried the Tyne and Wear Metro. It is part of the modern (2012) Durham Coast Line.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Tomlinson, W.W. (1915), The North Eastern Railway; its rise and development, Andrew Reid and Company, Newcastle; Longmans, Green and Company, London, p. 685 
  2. ^ a b Rennison, Robert William (1996), Civil Engineering Heritage: Northern England (2 ed.), Thomas Telford Publishing, p. 65, ISBN 07277 2518 1 
  3. ^ a b c Historic England. "MONKWEARMOUTH RAILWAY BRIDGE OVER RIVER WEAR WITH VIADUCT TO NORTH (1207051)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Sources:
  5. ^ MacKay, K. R. (1999). "Sunderland Metro - Challenge and Opportunity". Proceedings of the ICE - Municipal Engineer. Institute of Civil Engineers. 133 (2): 53. doi:10.1680/imuen.1999.31757. 
  6. ^ Sources:
  7. ^ "SUNDERLAND RAILWAY BRIDGE",, retrieved 11 October 2012 

External links[edit]

Next bridge upstream River Wear Next bridge downstream
Queen Alexandra Bridge  Monkwearmouth Railway Bridge Wearmouth Bridge