Royal Border Bridge
Bridge Berwick Upon Tweed Northumberland

Royal Border Bridge

Bridge In Berwick Upon Tweed, Northumberland

A Grade I listed railway viaduct spanning the River Tweed at Berwick and built by Robert Stephenson.

The Royal Border Bridge is a Grade I listed railway viaduct that spans the River Tweed at Berwick-upon-Tweed and is still in regular use today as part of the East Coast Main Line. The bridge was designed by Robert Stephenson (son of railway pioneer George Stephenson) and built between 1847 and 1850.

The bridge has 28 arches and is constructed primarily of stone and brick which has been faced with stone to provide a more aesthetic finish to the arches. The bridge is 38 metres above the river itself and is 659 metres long. Its 29 piers are set into the bed of the River Tweed and protected from the strong currents of the tidal river by cutwaters.

The construction of the Royal Border Bridge was also a significant event for the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, which had been struggling economically since the decline of its importance as a border town. The bridge provided a vital link between the town and the rest of the UK railway network, and it helped to boost trade and tourism in the area.

The bridge arches were built using a technique called centring. Centring is a temporary support structure that is used to hold the arches in place while they are being built. The centring for the Royal Border Bridge was made of timber and it was supported by a series of temporary piers. Once the arches were completed, the centring was removed and the bridge was self-supporting.

The foundation stone was laid on the 15th May 1847 and The Royal Border Bridge was officially opened by Queen Victoria on 29th August 1850. The Queen and her husband, Prince Albert, travelled to Berwick-upon-Tweed by special train, and they were greeted by large crowds of people. The Queen unveiled a commemorative plaque on the bridge, and she also granted her permission for it to be named the Royal Border Bridge.

During World War II, the Royal Border Bridge was a vital target for German bombers. However, it was never successfully hit, and it continued to operate throughout the war.

In 1989, the Royal Border Bridge was electrified as part of the electrification of the East Coast Main Line. This allowed for faster and more efficient train services to operate between London and Edinburgh.

In the 1990s, the Royal Border Bridge underwent a major restoration project. This work was necessary to repair the damage that had been caused by years of wear and tear. The bridge was also strengthened to allow it to carry heavier trains.

Today, the Royal Border Bridge is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Berwick-upon-Tweed and was used on the iconic railway posters for the East Coast Line. It is a testament to the engineering skill of Robert Stephenson and his team, and it is a reminder of the important role that the bridge has played in the history of the town and the surrounding area. Although it should be noted that in building the bridge, Berwick Castle was cut in two and partly demolished, so while the Victorians were innovators, they were also no respecters of history!

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How To Find Royal Border Bridge

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55.772491, -2.013258

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55.774081, 55.774081

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There is parking available nearby at Berwick upon Tweed Railway Station Car Park.

Contributed by Andrew Gardner

I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.

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Andrew Gardner

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