Ah me lads, ye shudda seen us gannin',

We pass'd the foaks alang the road just as they wor stannin';

Thor wis lots o' lads an' lassies there, aal wi' smiling faces,

Gannin' alang the Scotswood Road, to see the Blaydon Races.

GEORGE RIDLEY wrote his Tyneside folk anthem, the Blaydon Races, in 1862, partly to promote his next music hall show in Blaydon.

To be realistic, he namechecked many of the places along the three mile Scotswood Road which runs from three miles on the north bank of the Tyne. It starts outside Newcastle station and heads westwards, through the working-class industrial communities of Elswick and Benwell. At Scotswood, it crossed the great river on a “chine bridge” – a chain bridge, or a suspension bridge.

This bridge opened on April 16, 1831, designed by John Green, less than three months before Green’s other suspension bridge opened at Whorlton, between Gainford and Barnard Castle over the Tees.

The Scotswood Bridge was 670ft long, and Whorlton Bridge is only 173ft long.

As Memories 503 told, they were built at the very beginnings of the suspension bridge era, when the technique was not tried or tested – the 189-year-old Whorlton bridge has just been shut to all traffic because of safety fears,

The article prompted John Todd of Barton to look out his late father’s sketchbooks because he had sketched the bridge in the early 1930s when he lived in Blaydon, showing how the deck was sup-ported by chains thrown over an impressive tower.

“I notice that, as I do, my father made a note in the corner as to how the drawing could be improved,” says John. “It says: ‘Make tower slightly squatter.’"

Even with a slightly squatter tower, it was still an attractive bridge, but the tower was the root of its problems because the gap between its legs was not wide enough for 20th Century traffic.

When the sketch was made, two 6ft wide footpaths had been hung off either side of the deck to make the carriageway wider, but the towers still acted as bottlenecks.

Consequently, the suspension bridge was demolished in 1967 when a much more boring and flat bridge – but one without any bottlenecks – was completed alongside it.

“How disappointed I felt at seeing the style of its replacement,” says John.