A County Durham bridge dating back to 1894 is to close temporarily for essential maintenance work.

The Causeway Bridge in Wolsingham is currently scheduled to close to pedestrians and traffic for 20 weeks from July 22 for work that is aimed at ensuring it can continue to be used well into the future.

Durham County Council is to carry out an extensive refurbishment scheme that will include significant repairs to age-related damage.

Teams from the council will be working extended hours – six days a week and 12 hours a day during the summer months – to ensure the bridge – between The Causeway and Wear’s Bank - can reopen as quickly as possible.

Signs will be in place for the duration of the work advising of a diversion route.

Cllr John Shuttleworth, the council’s cabinet member for highways, rural communities and community safety, said: “We are investing in this essential refurbishment scheme which will ensure The Causeway Bridge can continue to be used for many years to come.

“We appreciate the closure of this bridge is an inconvenience, but it is critical that the works are completed to preserve the structure which is more than one hundred years old. Delaying the project could result in further deterioration and more extensive works at a later date.

“Closing the bridge is a necessity to facilitate the works and to ensure the safety of the travelling public and our workforce.

“The timing of the works has been planned to start in July as some elements are weather and temperature dependant, including waterproofing, resurfacing and painting.

"The programme also considers the impact on school traffic and therefore is planned to include the six weeks school holidays.

“We would like to thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding while these essential works are carried out.

"Our teams will be working hard to ensure that the bridge is reopened as quickly as possible.”

The works will include removing the existing road surface so that repairs can be carried out to the concrete below.

It will see scaffolding erected and steel within the bridge either repaired or replaced.

Existing beams will be reinforced ahead of painting and improvements to the structure’s surface drainage system, before a new road surface is laid.

The diversion that motorists will be advised to follow during the closure will be via the A689 to Harperley Roundabout, the A68 to Toft Hill, the C33 and the C30 through Hamsterley and Bedburn.

The route incorporates a diversion which is already in place while the C31 Crakehill Bank, between Hamsterley and Witton-le-Wear, is closed.