EMERGENCY repairs are being carried out on a historic bridge in Tees Valley.

Whorlton suspension Bridge on the river Tees is closed to all motorists while repairs are being carried out but will still be open to pedestrians and cyclists.

The bridge which crosses the Tees just east of Barnard Castle dates from 1831 and is one of the earliest suspension bridges in the country

Spanning 173 feet it has been strengthened but has a weight limit of 3 tons, and needs regular inspections due to its age.

A spokesperson said: "a critical, member of one of the structural elements that connects the deck to the suspension chains has failed and requires further assessment and replacement."

Mark Readman, Durham County Council's highway services manager, said: "The safety of the public is our primary concern which is why the decision to close the bridge is unavoidable.

"Due to the historic nature of the bridge repair works will require permission from Historic England, as it is categorised as a scheduled monument. This means at the moment we are unable to advise on the duration of the closure and will be providing a further update as soon as we can."

Historic England said "We look forward to working with the Council to both safeguard the historic interest of the bridge, which is a rare example of an unaltered 19th Century suspension bridge, and minimise the disruption to the public who use it."

A diversion route for vehicle users has been set up via Winston and Ovington.