28 May 2023

"Bridging the Tees", by Chris Davies

Chris Davies very kindly supplied me with a copy of his book Bridging the Tees (self-published, 2023, 128pp). If you want a copy you will have to go direct to the source: he sells it on eBay for £20 + postage (softcover) or £30 + postage (hardcover) - just search for the title. Alternatively, you can email teesbridges@btinternet.com for details of how to buy it.

The author's aim was to create a book that describes and depicts the roughly fifty bridges that span the River Tees in Northern England. Unusually, the photographs are all taken by drone, giving a different (and very helpful) perspective compared to what many other books offer.

I like this kind of book - a catalogue of the bridges of a single place. I've previously featured examples like Bridging the Tweed, Thames Bridges and Danube-bridges. It's a nice little genre all of its own. It should appeal both to pontists and to those with an interest in the local area and its history.

Davies's book opens with a useful discussion of the River Tees itself, both as a waterway and as a historic border (between the county of Durham and the North Riding of Yorkshire). Several pages discuss the history of bridge (and turnpike) building and maintenance, an important part of understanding how the Tees bridges each came to be, and under what conditions they remain.

The heart of the book lists the bridges from Tees Head to Teesmouth. Each is given the same space: two pages, one page of text facing one page with a photograph of the bridge.

The text gives the salient facts about each bridge, so far as they are known, and something of their history and context. The author has plainly done his research, and it's all clearly written and informative. The river is home to several important historic structures, such as Wynch Bridge, Barnard Castle Bridge, Whorlton Suspension Bridge, Newport Bridge and the Tees Transporter Bridge. Important bridges that no longer exist are mentioned in passing, such as the Stockton and Darlington Railway suspension bridge which proved to be unsafe as soon as it was built. Of the modern bridges, the Infinity Bridge is of particular interest.

Many of the bridges were new to me, including quite a few that seem worth a visit. The author notes that the book was never intended to be an academically comprehensive reference work, but there's little doubt it is the definitive word on its topic. I enjoyed it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A remarkable book embracing so many aspects of this fascinating river. Thank you Chris ( and Sue) for all the work that made this such an insightful book. Mike