The Border Counties Railway was authorised by Parliament in 1854 and was to run from Border Counties Junction, controlled by a signal box of that name about a mile west of Hexham station, to Belling Burn near Plashetts on the North Tyne. It opened in 1856 and was intended to transport coal and ironstone and to serve the villages along its route. To cross the Tyne an iron bridge was built for a single line of railway at an angle over the river on four piers surrounded by wooden piling, with wrought iron girers carried on cast iron cylindrical supports.
The bridge was beset with problems from its construction when the temporary wooden structure erected initially to allow a crane access, was swept away by floods. The abutments at the south end had to be moved eastwards to avoid scouring of the river at its original site. Both weight and speed restrictions have always been a feature of the bridge. The bridge was reportedly damaged by floods in August 1948 and was given temporary repairs sufficient to keep the line open for a time. The condition of the bridge was a major factor in the eventual closure of the line, the cost of repairs being considered prohibitive. Regular passenger trains ceased on 13 October 1956 although the line (and the bridge) remained open for goods until 1 September 1958. When the line was being lifted in 1959 the crane fell over into the river. Today the stumps of the piers are still to be seen in the river bed. Photographs of the bridge in its working days are hard to come by, but an example is shown with a passenger train hauled by K1 locomotive 2-6-0 No 62002 crossing the bridge from the Newcastle to Carlisle line going towards Bellingham. For an excellent account of the bridge and the railway of which it was part see G W M Sewell's book 'The North British Railway In Northumberland'.