Head Ashby and Co., Railway bridges on the Esk Valley line

t13456 t13457This bridge is near the Danby Centre not too far from Whitby there is also a similar bridge in Castleton, perhaps there are others on the line too and all a testament to Teesside steel!

Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.

8 thoughts on “Head Ashby and Co., Railway bridges on the Esk Valley line

  1. Cast Iron is not a very good choice for railway bridges, although I understand that cast iron girders were used in the railway bridge which replaced the early suspension bridge from Stockton to Thornaby. This second attempt at a bridge was eventually replaced with steel.

    We are hoping to have a meeting on the bridges of the River Tees in September.

    It is possible that these bridges on the Esk railway were also replaced with steel.


  2. In 1791 the River Tees flowed in a different course to the present. It flowed round what was known as Mandale Marshes and in 1791 a plan was proposed to cut a new channel from Portrack through to Stockton thus shortening the journey time for ships coming upstream from the estuary to Stockton and Yarm. On the 1895 Ordnance Map of Teesside it shows the race course (Stockton) and also shows the route and name of the old River Tees. That might be why, historically at least, the name of the Teesdale Iron Works is given as Stockton-On-Tees. Even on the early census data what we now know as Thornaby-on-Tees was called South Stockton.


  3. Head, Wright & Ashby took over the small Teesdale ironworks built in 1840, around 1859.

    This company then gave way to Head, Ashby & Co in the early 1860’s, before shortly afterwards becoming Head,Wrightson & Co around 1865. The Esk Valley railway line was opened in 1863 which would as to manufacture, date this and other bridges on that line to around 1861-62.

    It’s interesting that the company is shown as being based in Stockton-on-Tees, when it was actually in an area known as Mandale, on the Yorkshire side of the Tees, on a tract of the riverbank called Thornaby Carrs. This area became known as South Stockton by 1863 (after the above bridge was made) and only became a formal borough known as Thornaby-on-Tees in 1892. Head Wrightson’s works were therefore not actually ‘officially’ part of the Borough of Stockton on Tees until 1974.

    The interest goes further, in as much as Head Ashby’s ‘Thornaby Carrs’ works were on an area previously used for horse-racing from the early 18thC. this track being known as ‘Stockton Racecourse’. 120yrs later, the name ‘Teesdale’ ( as shown on the bridge), was used once again to define the new area of housing and commercial offices that were developed upon the former 68-acre site of Head Wrightson’s internationally-famous engineering operations.


    • Thanks for this Chris , much appreciated . I did wonder about the Stockton-on-Tees and Teesdale association and guessed the bridge was made in Thornaby yet it still carried the Stockton place name rather than Thornaby when I would have thought that the company would have proclaimed its Thornaby roots over Stockton ?
      I’ll have to get back out there and look at the other bridges on the line !


      • I noticed yesterday that the railway bridge at Castleton is also of the same design although the Head , Ashby & Co. lettering is obscured by a height restriction sign. Shame!


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