Skerne Bridge in Darlington, the oldest railway bridge in the world which is still in continuous use, has seen improvement works carried out.
This weekend sees the 195th anniversary of the bridge, and Network Rail has carried out work to remove plants and weeds as well as cutting back some of the trees, making the bridge more visible.
Graffiti has also been removed, along with some repainting of the bridge, which today carries services on the Darlington to Bishop Auckland line.
Network Rail worked closely with Darlington Borough Council and the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust to bring the bridge back towards its former glory.
Officially opened on 27th September 1825, Skerne Bridge was built to carry the Stockton and Darlington Railway over the River Skerne. The bridge has previously featured on the £5 note as well as being on Historic England’s ‘100 Places’ list.
Paul Rutter, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Coast Route, said: “Skerne Bridge is a vital part of our railway history, and I’m proud of our teams for carrying out this work ahead of the 195th anniversary, so it can be celebrated by people in Darlington and showcased to those visiting the town.
“The bridge carried the first passenger trains, and it will remain an essential part of Darlington’s railway for years to come.”
Graeme Bunker-James, The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, said: ‘’The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is pleased to have been able to help deliver a step change in the appearance of this important structure as the countdown to 2025 gets underway.
“As the custodians of Darlington’s modern manufacture of steam locomotives, it is wonderful to see the world famous location recognised as the birthplace of the public railway fit for the celebrations.”
Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, added: “I am delighted that this work has been carried out by Network Rail in time for the bridge’s 195th anniversary. Darlington has a rich railway heritage, and this bridge forms a key part of it and will no doubt feature in our forthcoming plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the railways in 2025.
“This is an important piece of railway history, and it is vital that it is protected and maintained for future generations to use and enjoy.”
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