World Tourism Tips

Newcastle’s Beautiful Bridge

Tyne Bridge is a stunning structure, which crosses the River Tyne and connects Newcastle with Gateshead. Ideas for the bridge began around 1864, as people thought that a new bridge would ease traffic congestion, as well as providing a new river crossing. However, the design process only seriously started to get underway in the early 1920s. Mott, Hay and Anderson were responsible for the bridge’s design, and the results were so impressive, they were later asked to design Edinburgh’s landmark Forth Rail Bridge.

Middlesbrough-based contractors, Dorman Long, began working on the bridge in August 1925, although it was a dangerous job for the workers. The brave workers were nicknamed ‘spider men,’ as they had to balance 80ft over the river and worked without the use of safety ropes and harness. However, despite the many risks involved, just one man, Charles Tosh, lost his life during the construction process.

By February 1928, construction was finished and a few months later, on 10 October 1928, King George V and the Queen officially opened Tyne Bridge. Thousands of spectators watched them as they drove over the bridge in their Ascot Landau and became the very first people to use the roadway.

The Bridge is an excellent example of a compression arch suspended-deck bridge. The most famous example of this type of bridge is the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which was built in 1932. It is often thought that the Tyne Bridge inspired the design of this bridge, although this is a myth as work actually started on the Sydney Harbour Bridge before the Tyne Bridge – it just took longer to complete due to its size.

By February 1928, construction was finished and a few months later, on 10 October 1928, King George V and the Queen officially opened Tyne Bridge. Thousands of spectators watched them as they drove over the bridge in their Ascot Landau and became the very first people to use the roadway.

When it was first built, the bridge was painted a distinctive green colour, which was specifically developed by the paint manufacturers, J. Dampney Co. of Gateshead. To commemorate the millennium, the bridge was once more painted in this superb colour.

Middlesbrough-based contractors, Dorman Long, began working on the bridge in August 1925, although it was a dangerous job for the workers. The brave workers were nicknamed ‘spider men,’ as they had to balance 80ft over the river and worked without the use of safety ropes and harness. However, despite the many risks involved, just one man, Charles Tosh, lost his life during the construction process.

After eighty years, Tyne Bridge still provides a service to the people of Newcastle and has arguably become the area’s most recognisable landmark. The 531ft steel structure is now renowned as one of the most remarkable feats of modern engineering and it continues to act as a proud reminder of Newcastle’s rich industrial past. In fact, the Tyne Bridge is so important to the people of Tyneside, the artist Chris Burden recreated it in miniature form for the opening exhibition at Gateshead’s innovative BALTIC art gallery in 2002.

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