The Princess of Wales Bridge – often referred to as the Diana Bridge – was built by Tarmac and opened on 23rd September 1992. It provides a road crossing between the Teesdale area of Thornaby and the north end of Riverside Road, Stockton. The photograph shows the upstream side of the bridge. The minesweeper is HMS Kellington, the former headquarters of Stockton Sea Cadets. She was moored at Corporation Quay, before being decommissioned in 2010. The Barrage Reach/Regatta Course is to the downstream side of the bridge. The Kellington came upstream before the Barrage was built but after the bridge was opened. So close was the clearance, even at low tide and despite removing parts of her superstructure, that scratch marks were left under the bridge. A short while ago the Ministry of Defence said they would sell the vessel to the Cadets but the price quoted was regarded as excessive. Reason prevailed and a sale was agreed when it was pointed out to the “Men from the Ministry” that if they wanted to take the ship back they may just have a bit of a removal problem…. there is this thing called a Barrage in the way…. It was with the Sea Cadets that we first entered into discussions in 1987 in the hope of establishing some form of centre for river based organisations. Happily for them they found the ideal solution to their accommodation problem when they obtained the Kellington, initially on loan. I believe that their former “brick and slate” minesweeper ,TS Fortitude, in Bowesfield Lane has since been “sunk”.
Rowing boats going downstream MUST take the extreme right hand arch of this bridge (on the Teesdale side).Please note that there may be people fishing near this arch – we share the river so try to not to upset them even though strictly speaking they are not supposed to be there! Please note that it is dangerous to go downstream through the centre arch as you are blind to any craft which may be coming upstream. Boats coming upstream MUST use the centre arch and when through the bridge should keep well to the Stockton side of Castlegate Reach as there could be boats, correctly positioned, coming downstream toward you in the main channel outside the line of buoys and moored boats. Also when on this reach watch out for boats from Castlegate Watersports Centre – although accompanied by instructors , the users are likely to be young and inexperienced, not necessarily on the correct navigational station nor moving in a straight line. Be prepared to stop.