RECENT Memories have been fascinated by an 1880s picture, in the Maddison archive, of a footbridge in the Bishop’s park in Bishop Auckland. Memories 372 suggested it crossed the Gaunless near the carriage bridge.

We believe it existed from the mid 1850s and was gone from by the mid 1890s, and now no sign of it exists at all.

We called it “the shonky bridge” because it has only one handrail which looks to be a very wonky, higgledy-piggledy affair.

But Ian Forsyth, in Durham, suggests that the Bishop of Durham was more in touch with the spirit of his age than we are.

“The irregular design of the handrail does not imply that the Bishop’s bridge was ‘shonky’ or in any way sub-standard,” says Ian. “On the contrary, it was in the height of fashion.

“There was a great craze in Victorian times for ‘rustic’ garden buildings and furniture (i.e. made from branches with the bark on). Obviously, most such items will have rotted away long since, but the fashion was also reproduced in cast iron. If you keep your eyes open when visiting preserved railways you may find rustic station benches.”