There has been a church at Sockburn since Saxon times. The estate was bought in the 1830’s by Henry & Theophania Blackett of Newcastle. They decided to demolish the church to create a romantic ruin. A replacement church was built about a mile away at Girsby.
After the church had been moved, the locals continued to use the Sockburn river crossing and paths across the estate as they had done for generations. The Blacketts resented this intrusion and blocked the pathways. This led to legal action against the Blacketts by the Darlington Highways Board. The Blacketts lost the case but used their wealth to pursue the case through the courts.
After two years of constant legal wrangling with ever increasing court costs, the Highways Board came up with a novel solution for paying the solicitors bills, they levied a rate upon on the inhabitants of the township of Sockburn. Since the main inhabitants were the Blacketts, this meant that the family were paying the legal costs of both sides. The matter was eventually settled, the paths across the Sockburn estate remained closed and the Blacketts built a new bridge across the Tees.
The new bridge was designed by Thomas Dyke of West Hartlepool. It was constructed with five spans of wrought iron, bowstring girders supported by cast iron trestles set into the bed of the river.
To this day there remains no public right of way through Sockburn.
Bridge over Troubled Water. Northern Echo June 2009
Bridges over The Tees. C H Morris June 2000