Coldstream Bridge

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Coldstream Bridge
Berwickshire, Northumberland
Bridge over River Tweed at Coldstream - - 670745.jpg
The bridge over the River Tweed at Coldstream
Carrying: Road traffic
Crossing: River Tweed
Grid reference: NT84894012
Location: 55°39’16"N, 2°14’30"W
Material: Sandstone blocks
Built 1763 -1766
Architect: John Smeaton

Coldstream Bridge crosses the River Tweed at Coldstream in Berwickshire, linking the town with Cornhill-on-Tweed half a mile down the road on the Northumberland bank. The bridge carries the A698 Kelso to Berwick road.

The bridge was built in the 18th-century, between 1763 and 1766. It is a Category A listed structure on the north bank and Grade II* listed on the south.


The Tweed Bridges Trust built the bridge, engaging for the task the famed architect John Smeaton (who was responsible for the third Eddystone Lighthouse). Construction lasted from July 1763 to 28 October 1766, when it opened to traffic.[1]

The cost of the bridge was £6,000, with government grants available for the project and the shortfall covered by a mixture of local subscription and loans from Edinburgh's banks, which were to be paid back by the tolling system. There was controversy when the project's resident engineer, Robert Reid of Haddington,[2] used some of the funds to build accommodation for himself, but the trustees were assuaged when Smeaton argued that the house would actually help support the bridge. It seems that Smeaton was sympathetic to Reid, believing him to be underpaid for his work.[3]

The bridge underwent subsequent work, including the 1784 construction of a downstream weir as an anti-erosion measure, concrete reinforcement of the foundations in 1922, alterations in 1928, and major work in 1960–1961 to strengthen the bridge and widen the road.

A plaque on the bridge commemorates the 1787 visit of the poet Robert Burns to the Coldstream.[1] Of historical note is the toll house on the Scottish side of the bridge, which became infamous for the runaway marriages that took place there, as at Gretna Green, hence its name, the 'Wedding House' or 'Marriage House'.[1]

The bridge ceased to be a toll bridge in 1826.

Listed structure

The Coldstream Bridge 'that part in England' (Northumberland) was Grade II* listed in 1952, being described in the listing particulars as "an ambitious, well-proportioned, and carefully-detailed C18 bridge design."[1]

The Coldstream Bridge '(that part in Scotland) over the Tweed' (Berwickshire) was Category A listed in 1971, being described in the listing as "A very fine example of an 18th century bridge design by pre-eminent civil engineer John Smeaton, his first example of a bridge executed in fine dressed sandstone with classical detailing and forming a prominent structure in the landscape of the border between Scotland and England."[4]


The bridge is made of "squared and tooled sandstone blocks with ashlar dressings".[1] A circular oculus in the spandrel above each pier is filled in with whinstone rubble. The five main arches each have an arch band and a triple keystone; the arches grow larger and higher towards the bridge's centre. There is a smaller semicircular flood arch at either end, with pendent keystones. A weir named the Cauld immediately downstream of the bridge has protected it from erosion since 1785.[1]


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Coldstream Bridge)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 National Heritage List 1153712: Coldstream Bridge (That Part In England) (Grade II* listing)
  2. Footnote to Letter from Jane Welsh, The Carlyle Letters Online, JBW to Thomas Carlyle, 8 Jan 1823; doi:10.1215/lt-18230108-JBW-TC-01; CL 2: 262-265 The Carlyle Letters Online Template:Webarchive
  3. SINE project Template:Webarchive
  4. Coldstream Bridge (that part in Scotland) over the Tweed (Category A) - Listing detail (Historic Environment Scotland)

Bridges and crossings on the River Tweed
Mertoun House Footbridge Kelso Bridge Hunter's Bridge Coldstream Bridge Ladykirk and Norham Bridge Union Bridge Berwick Bypass Bridge