This little bridge near the heart of Darlington has a wondrous and under-appreciated history.
The Skerne Bridge is officially the world’s oldest railway bridge in continuous operation. The bridge was constructed as part of the Darlington to Stockton railway in 1825, the world’s first public railway to use steam trains. The line connected collieries in Shildon with Stockton-on-Tees, via Darlington, the home town of the family that funded the world’s first railways.
In that same year, George Stephenson’s Locomotion No. 1, the world’s first steam locomotive, crossed the bridge. The Skerne bridge can be found crossing the River Skerne between Albert Road and John Street. There is access for walkers and cyclists from both directions.
Historic England list the bridge as one of the “100 irreplaceable monuments in the country.” It was previously featured on the reverse side of the £5 note. Its image can also be found inside British passports. There are two plaques with extra information at the site for visitors to learn more about the bridge’s history.