Framwellgate Bridge pre-dates the nearby Prebends Bridge in Durham, but is a significantly more attractive and impressive structure.
A bridge was built at this site in the early 12th century, by Bishop Ralph Flambard. It was protected by a gateway and tower, until destroyed in a flood in 1400. The replacement bridge consisted of two segmental arched river spans, and one much shorter land span. The land span is no longer visible, although it may be hidden by later buildings. It can be seen on a painting by Thomas Girtin, and if it does still exist, it may be a survivor from the original bridge.
The river spans are ribbed arches, originally with five ribs, and later widened to seven. As with its predecessor, it was originally protected by a gatehouse, removed in 1760 because they hindered traffic.
The shallow spans are very attractively proportioned. They are separated by triangular breakwaters. I think the slight recessing of the arch facing stones is a large part of the attraction, and spandrel tie bars have been added in a way which complements rather than detracts from the bridge's appeal.
This was pretty much the last bridge we visited on the first day of our IABSE study tour. We did visit the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in te evening, but I'll cover that when I run through all the Tyneside bridges that we visted on our second day.
- Google maps / Bing maps
- Bridges on the Tyne
- British Listed Buildings
- Durham World Heritage Site
- The Ancient Bridges of the North of England (Jervoise, EP Publishing Ltd, 1931, reprinted 1973)
- The Bridges of Northumberland and Durham (Graham, Northern History Booklets, 1975)
- Civil Engineering Heritage: Northern England (Rennison, Thomas Telford Publishing, 1996)
- An Encyclopaedia of Britain's Bridges (McFetrich, Priory Ash, 2010)