The Pack Horse bridge over Lustrum Beck c1954

t14660There was some discussion a while back on Picture Stockton regarding this bridge and the sad lack of images. While sorting out pictures recovered from a failed PC, this image has surfaced. I hope the picture helps those who contributed their comments to ‘An impression of Portrack Pack Horse Bridge’.

Image and details courtesy of Derek Wade.

7 thoughts on “The Pack Horse bridge over Lustrum Beck c1954

  1. Thanks Frank. Thinking about what you say makes good sense. We all have seen pictures of sure footed mules walking along 4ft wide cliff edges, overhanging a 1000 ft sheer drop.

    Walking along the centre line of the packhorse bridge was enough for me.

    If Frank is right about the age of the bridge, this bit would have been one of the few original stretches of Lustrum Beck left, until it disappeared in the 1960s. The straightness of the Beck, between Tilery and Norton suggests that this section must have been recut before good maps began to be retained by Stockton Council. As I have mentioned previously Tilery Rec must have been a marshy low lying flood plain being regularly flooded..


  2. The pack horse bridge has no parapets because that is what it was for, pack horses with panniers crates baskets strapped to their sides. The bridge was just wide enough for a pack horse and driver the baskets would have caught on high parapets. There are many such bridges across the UK and they come in many styles though the single span over a stream is normal they can have two three or even four spans. All the ones I have seen have been made of stone as many date from 1500-1600’s and even though Canals and Railways took many of the loads those pack horses would have carried it took a long time before outer area’s were covered. We still had drovers walking cattle Geese and pigs into towns in my Fathers time, he started with a horse and cart at a time road traffic was rare. My Uncle Bob Thompson was a Rulley Driver which was a high sided two wheel cart and although retired when I was a lad told me of his long distance trips from Brickworks in Stockton to the Steel works at Cargo Fleet. Dad got his first truck in 1932 and a horse and cart was still the main method of transporting goods up to the war.
    Portrack Pack horse Bridge could be much older than we know, it would be interesting to find out its actual age and I would bet it has many stories to tell.


  3. As Peter McGlade mentions, and as can be discerned in the picture, the bridge had no parapet, so it was slightly unnerving to walk across. There was a lot of brick debris about and one wonders if there had been an intention to build brick walls as these would be cheaper. The stone would have had to come in from miles away. Remember, when it was built there was no street lighting at all, so people would have been going over it at night, with, at best, just a crude lantern


  4. Great to see this photo, just as I remember it. It was a very low wall, walked on it lot’s of times. Fred is right about the location of the other bridge at Blackets, It also had rail lines on it that carried rail tubs with clay in it.


  5. Ken this is nowhere near Blacketts.

    I think the bridge you were referring to is a combined rail and farm track bridge. The rail line was on a branch from the line to south part of ICI Billingham. A picture is available on the webs site under Blacketts Bridge


  6. A dream come true! Thank you Derek very much indeed. Hope you failed PC has other secrets.

    Are there any bridge experts who could hazard a guess as to the age of the bridge. The regularity of the stonework suggests that it is not that old. Mid 18th century or a bit earlier?


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.