This very rough sketch, from memory, gives an idea of what could have been a significant memorial to the history of Stockton. I hope it will encourage others who remember this bridge to add more details. It was demolished in the 1960’s.
The bridge was a simple brick or stone arch over Lustrum Beck. Judging from old maps, it was built very close to what was then the mouth of beck, where it entered the northern loop of the old River Tees. It carried Portrack Lane, which wasn’t much more than a track, across the beck. One of its main purposes would have been to get men and horses close to the river loop to enable them to haul ships up to Stockton. So it must have played a vital part in ensuring Stockton’s development as a port.
After the loops on the old River Tees were closed off in the early 1800’s, it was necessary to make a new channel for Lustrum Beck, down to the River Tees, where it now flows through a sluice on the river embankment.
The Packhorse Bridge would have fallen into complete disuse when Portrack Lane was extended towards Haverton Hill. A new road bridge, of rectangular form was then built, and I have tried to show this in the background. Around the early sixties, the channel below the road bridge was straightened, bypassing the Packhorse Bridge. The Packhorse Bridge was then completely demolished. I don’t suppose there are any photographs of it in existence?
Image and details courtesy of Fred Starr.