The first bridge going upstream is situated about a mile up river from the piers at Sunderland. Built in 1928/1929 by Sir William Arrol and Company Ltd. and designed by Mott, Hay and Anderson, it lies at the heart of the city connecting Monkwearmouth to the main shopping centre by the A183 road. The concrete abutments are faced with masonry, the arch of the bridge does not rise to any great hight but is rather flattened compared to other single arch bridges of this type. It is, nevertheless, quite high above the river and is wide enough for four lanes of traffic. Trams formerly used the bridge until theirwithdrawal in 1954. It is Grade 2 listed.
The Wearmouth bridge repaced an earlier arch bridge of 1796 at the instigation of local MP Roland Burdon. Built of cast iron and stone it had a pronounced hump. This bridge was not without problems and the arch had to be straightened in 1804. In 1857 a major reconstruction was carried out by engineer Robert Stephenson which gave the bridge a flatter look as the hump was dispensed with by heightening the abutments. The bridge design was altered, box girders being used. It reopened in 1859. Both before and after reconstruction the bridge had a toll though this was abolished in 1885. Previously a ferry served as the only crossing here.