On Saturday September 29 1849, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are reported stopping on the High Level Bridge over the Tyne on their way from Balmoral to London.
They should have spent the night in Stirling but cholera had been reported in the town so the party proceeded to Berwick where they were received by a deliriously enthusiastic crowd before the party spent the night at Howick Hall in Northumberland, the seat of Earl Grey.
"Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, passed through this town yesterday. Her Majesty travelled by rail, and did not leave her carriage; but, on the centre of the High Level Bridge her Majesty condescended to receive addresses from the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and from the Mayor and Corporation of Gateshead.
Her Majesty's entrance into the borough of Newcastle was recognised by a salute of 21 guns from the Old Castle, where in times gone past, the sovereigns of this country have been domiciled and entertained.
Her departure took place under a salutation of artillery. The weather was unfavourable, but, notwithstanding, an immense assemblage was present to greet and congratulate her Majesty.
"At the junction of the lines north of the High Level Bridge the train stopped thus giving an excellent view of the Majesty, the Prince, and the royal children, to the spectators on west side, to whom her Majesty, who was standing in the carriage with the prince by her side, continued to bow in acknowledgement of their acclamations. As the Queen, however, confined her attention to the west side of the bridge, considerable disappointment was experienced on the other side of the line, particularly by those who had come from a distance, and were saturated with rain besides.
"The condescending and animated manner of her Majesty delighted all, while her light and beaming countenance in some manner reflected the pleasure she experienced at the warm and joyous reception given to her. Prince Albert likewise evinced the same interest, while the Prince of Wales and the other royal children attracted general attention. Every heart seemed to be animated with kindliest sensations; and many a spontaneous expression was uttered for the health and prosperity and happy reign of Queen Victoria, her royal Consort, and her beautiful group of children. Her Majesty was attired in a white satin drawn bonnet, with white veil and red artificial flowers on the interior. She wore a tartan shawl of the Stuart pattern, over a sky-blue dress, her gloves being of a sea-green colour, with red seamlets. She looked remarkably well, and seemed much delighted with her reception, repeatedly bowing and gracefully smiling in acknowledgement of the hearty cheers by which she was saluted. Prince Albert wore a frock coat and checked trousers. The Prince of Wales was robed in light grey apparel, and seemed a most interesting child.
"The Mayor had issued an official notice... that the manufactories, shops and other places of business may be closed on that day.
"The bells of St Nicholas sent forth merry peals; and military bands awakened attention to the various detachments of Infantry, and the Artillery, as they proceeded to the places assigned to them in the programme of arrangements. All this while the rain continued to descend, but it seemed not in the least to deter her Majesty's lieges from displaying their loyalty and attachment to their Sovereign."
"The High Level Bridge, which was formally opened by Queen Victoria, was designed by the famous engineer, Robert Stephenson. The first permanent pile for forming the foundation was driven into the bed of the river on October 1, 1846, and the last key, closing the arches, was driven into its place on June 7, 1849. The cost of the bridge itself was £243,096; of the approaches, £113,057; and of the land required, £135,000; the total outlay being nearly half a million. The bridge consists of six cast iron arches, supported on piers of solid masonry. Its length is 1,337 feet, and the length of the waterway is 512 feet. From high water mark to the railway level is 112 feet, whilst the height to the carriageway is 85 feet. The erection of the structure of this structure was considered to be a splendid engineering achievement, and Tynesiders have always been immensely proud of the `High Level'."