Spanning the river between Stockton and Thornaby this three arch road bridge is constructed of iron and stone. Whilst the finance for the new Millenium Bridge included significant contributions from a wide spread of external sources, Victoria Bridge was paid for mainly by locally raised funds. “Subscriptions” were raised from North Riding of Yorkshire, Durham County, Tees Conservancy Commissioners, Tramway Company, Water Board and North Eastern Railway Company. The balance of the cost was bourne by the two towns of Stockton and South Stockton (the latter we now know as Thornaby), in amounts proportionate to their Rateable Values. (This bridge replaced the 1771 five arch Stockton Bridge which itself spelled the end of Yarm as a port as it restricted onward passage to Yarm to only small vessels). Inscriptions at each end of the bridge include the following: “The Victoria Bridge was formally opened on the 20th June 1887and has been named THE VICTORIA BRIDGE in commemoration of the 50th year of the reign of her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria….”
Together with the Transporter, Victoria Bridge vies for being my favourite. The Tranny is an outrageous and loveable anachronism – Victoria has a solid gracefulness. But then maybe it has more to do with the fact that on long training outings the former was the half way point and the latter meant that the long slog was almost over!
The rowing rule of the road through Victoria Bridge is quite straightforward. Always go downstream through the centre arch. Always come upstream through the Stockton side arch. If you fail to follow these rules you are blind to anything which may be coming in the opposite direction and therefore placing yourself and and others at serious risk.