Stone bridge viewed across a grassy river bank (in the foreground), towards wooded slope on the far bank.
East Woodburn Bridge, Hexham, Northumberland. © Guy V Thouret
East Woodburn Bridge, Hexham, Northumberland. © Guy V Thouret

Northumberland Bridge Awarded Grade II Listed Status

A 19th-century bridge in Northumberland has been listed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England, giving it greater protection and recognition.

East Woodburn Bridge, near Hexham, is an elegant bridge built in 1832 to replace an earlier 18th-century bridge, part of which still remains.

The bridge is situated on a historic droving route used by farmers to move large numbers of sheep and cattle between England and Scotland.

Droving played an important part in Northumberland’s history for more than a thousand years and reached its peak between the late-17th and mid-19th century. The practice involved moving sheep and cattle hundreds of miles on foot to market from as far north as the Scottish Highlands to as far south as London.  

The impressive, ‘wide-basket arch’ design of East Woodburn Bridge provided a safe crossing over the River Rede for the livestock. Its ambitious design is not only a great example of early-19th-century infrastructure, but it also illustrates the significance of droving in the area at the time.

Droving played a major role in shaping Northumberland’s landscape for many centuries and East Woodburn Bridge is a great surviving example of the infrastructure, which served this early form of long-haul livestock transportation.

The bridge’s new listing status will help protect it for future generations and increase public awareness of its significance as a monument to Northumberland’s rich agricultural heritage.

Veronica Fiorato, Team Leader for Listing in Northern England Historic England