Serious discussions began in the 1870s as to the building of a third bridge crossing over the Ouse. In 1873 a proposal was made to place the bridge at Skeldergate Ferry, although opposition was raised and it was questioned whether a better site would be between the Mount and Bishopthorpe Road, as the area was not built on and was owned by the Corporation.
In October 1873, the architect of the bridge, George Gordon Page who also designed Westminster Bridge, visited the city and met with the Lord Mayor, the Town Clerk and the Skeldergate Bridge committee. They looked at the approaches to the river on both sides of the river, and also how the bridge linked to the old city gaol and what stone the bridge would be made from.
The Skeldergate Bridge Committee reported back regularly to the council, and noted that there were some delays in receiving correspondence back from George Gordon Page, the engineer and architect. In September 1874 they reported that a quote had been received for the cost of the bridge, which would be 18,500 pounds excluding the costs of the approaches.
On the 14th June 1875, an Act of Parliament was passed to allow for the building of the bridge, and empowering the Corporation to construct the bridge, and also allowing them to collect tolls on the bridge.
At the council meeting in June 1878, the Lord Mayor stated that the Skeldergate Bridge Committee had announced the foundation stone would be laid on Wednesday 12th June at 12am.
The Lord Mayor performed the duty of laying the foundation stone as planned, and also placed in the cavity of the foundation stone copies of the York Daily Herald, the Yorkshire Gazette, a printed list of the members of the Corporation, a printed notice of the laying of the foundation stone and one of each of the current coins of the realm.
Work started on the bridge in 1878, with the bridge completed at the end of 1880. The bridge opened to the general public on the 1st January 1881 and was opened for general traffic on the 10th March 1881. The bridge was formally opened by the Lord Mayor, Richard Thompson, and the Rt. Hon John Stephenson Rowntree. The final cost of the bridge came to 55,000 pounds, significantly more than the initial planned cost.
The tolls on the bridge were lifted on April 1st 1914, and to commemorate this event, a large party and celebration took place. The bridge was later reconstructed and strengthened in 1938 to 1939, and the bridge and the attached toll house are now listed buildings. The bridge lifting mechanism was used for the last time in 1975, when it was removed, and the building is now used as a cafe.