Brunel's famous timber railway viaducts in Cornwall would not be completed for another two decades, but timber structures were springing up in various other places. In the same year as the Ouseburn Viaduct, the timber Scotswood Bridge was completed in Newcastle. Within the next decade, timber arch viaducts would be completed at Etherow and Dinting Vale, both near Manchester.
The Ouseburn Viaduct, along with the Willington Viaduct built at the same time on the same railway line, was originally a timber arch structure, built using the Wiebeking system. This involved the use of laminated timber sections, made from Baltic softwood, and preserved by Kyanising.
The timber bridge lasted for three decades, and was replaced in 1869 by the wrought iron bridge which remains there today. The pattern of the ironwork closely followed the geometry of the original timber structure.
In 1885, the bridge was widened, doubling the number of arch ribs, to carry additional railway tracks. Since then much of the valley floor has been infilled, hiding the original stone piers, which appear to have been much taller in old images and drawings of the bridge.
This wasn't an easy bridge to photograph, half hidden by trees and by adjacent structures.
There's a lovely quote in Benjamin Green's ICE paper concerning this bridge, from another consulting engineer:
"It appeared to me that to cross the Ouse Burn and Willington valleys, would be a work of so much labour and cost, that I would not conscientiously recommend the Committee to prosecute their plan. These difficulties, however, are likely to be removed, and most effectually surmounted by the great scientific and practical knowledge of Mr Green, who proposes to pass over them by bridges of peculiar construction, and at a comparatively light expense. To him I would most willingly transfer that responsibility, having no pretensions to skill in bridge building myself."
- Google maps / Bing maps
- LNER Encyclopaedia
- On the arched timber viaducts on the Newcastle and North Shields Railway (Green, Proc. ICE, 1846)
- British Railway Bridges and Viaducts (Smith, 1994)
- A Celebration of Bridges between the Tweed and the Tees (Hartley and Brown, 1995)
- Civil Engineering Heritage: Northern England (Rennison, 1996)
- An Encyclopaedia of Britain's Bridges (McFetrich, 2010)