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Coldstream Bridge (That Part in England)

A Grade II* Listed Building in Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.6542 / 55°39'15"N

Longitude: -2.2415 / 2°14'29"W

OS Eastings: 384899

OS Northings: 640105

OS Grid: NT848401

Mapcode National: GBR D3S1.JY

Mapcode Global: WH9Z0.J4TQ

Entry Name: Coldstream Bridge (That Part in England)

Listing Date: 6 May 1952

Last Amended: 5 July 2012

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1153712

English Heritage Legacy ID: 237999

Location: Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland, TD12

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Cornhill-on-Tweed

Traditional County: Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Cornhill St Helen

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

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An C18 road bridge, designed by John Smeaton, spanning the River Tweed and the border between England and Scotland. Work on the bridge began in July 1763 and it was opened to traffic on 28 October 1766. The bridge has been subject to a number of C20 structural alterations.


Road bridge spanning the River Tweed, a few hundred metres below the town of Coldstream, which at this point forms the border between England and Scotland. Constructed in 1763 by John Smeaton for the Tweed Bridge Trustees, incorporating elements from an earlier design by Robert Reid, resident engineer for the works. Repaired in 1922, altered in 1928 and again in 1960-61 when the deck was also widened.

MATERIALS: Constructed of squared and tooled sandstone blocks with ashlar dressings. The infill of the occuli is whinstone rubble.

PLAN: It is a large multi-span bridge with five segmental river arches, and a low semi-circular flood arch on either side. Immediately downstream is a large weir known as the Caud or Cauld, constructed in 1785 to reduce erosion of the bridge.

The segmental arches have arch bands and triple keystones, which increase in width and height towards the centre of the bridge. The arches spring from an impost band, which forms the base of the caps of the triangular cutwaters. Within the spandrels, there are four large keyed occuli. Above the arches, there is a dentil cornice and a parapet with shallow pilasters on both faces and slightly arched coping. Cantilevered concrete footpaths from 1960-61 to either side. The flood arches at either end have raised surrounds and pendent keystones.

APPROACHES: The southern (English) approach is flanked by walls with flat coping terminating in round end piers with domed caps. This approach has been re-aligned at some time: on the east side, the wing wall diverges from the line of its successor, and remains at a lower level, together with the lower section of its end pier. The northern (Scottish) approach has a west wall which curves to end in a stepped pier with a low domed cap. The eastern wing wall abuts the `Wedding House', a former Toll House.

PLAQUES AND INSCRIPTIONS: The northern flood arch bears an inscription recording a flood in February 1851 part way up the north side of its western opening. The centre of the inner face of the eastern parapet carries a plaque recording the date of its erection and subsequent alterations. The inner face of the western parapet carries a plaque erected in 1926, which records the crossing of the bridge by Robert Burns in 1787.


Robert Reid of Haddington, overseer of the bridge project, prepared the first design for Coldstream Bridge in 1762, and at the same time a design was commissioned from the civil engineer John Smeaton. Smeaton's second design, which incorporated ornament and detail from Reid's plan, was finally accepted. Work on the bridge began in July 1763 and it was opened to traffic on 28 October 1766. The bridge has been subject to a number of alterations including strengthening the piers and rebuilding the parapet in 1922, and the renewing of its internal structure, provision of reinforcing concrete relieving arches and widening of the roadway in 1960-61.

The association of John Smeaton with Coldstream Bridge is highly significant as Smeaton is a figure of national renown, perhaps most famous for his design of the third Eddystone Lighthouse, the prototype of all masonry lighthouses built in the open sea. A small number of bridges designed by him are already listed including Coldstream, Hexham, Perth and Banff, but Coldstream was the first and the one in which he adopted detailing which became features of his later bridge design and widely regarded as his hallmark. He is highly regarded and is considered to have had a career of extraordinary distinction and breadth, producing a series of designs and plans unrivalled in clarity and logic, with works ranging from mills (water and wind) and steam engines to bridges, harbours, river navigations, canals, and fen drainage, in addition to major contributions to engineering science.

Reasons for Listing

Coldstream Bridge is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural: an ambitious, well-proportioned, and carefully-detailed C18 bridge design.
* Intactness: despite having been altered by widening, overall the bridge retains its original form, appearance and engineering characteristics.
* Historic interest: the first bridge designed by John Smeaton, the nationally renowned engineer of Eddystone Lighthouse fame, and exhibiting some of his hallmark architectural detailing.

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