The magnificent 7 bridges over the River Tyne in Newcastle and Gateshead

That there are seven bridges over the River Tyne within two kilometres is the magnificence, not the individual magnificence of each bridge.

On Saturday in last weekend we spent the day in Newcastle upon Tyne. I’ve long wanted to visit each of the bridges over the River Tyne, either walking or driving over them. Two are railway bridges with no pedestrian access. Of the remaining five we walked over three and drove over two.

I’ll write a little about each bridge, plus a photo of ours, and present a short video of the opening and closing of the tilting Millenium Bridge. Before this here’s a map of the bridges, courtesy of travelsinorbit [click to expand].

1 – Gateshead Millenium Bridge

Opened in June 2001, the tilting foot and cycle bridge is much admired for its elegance and engineering solution to allow ships to pass under it. Each opening and closing takes 4 and half minutes. Bridge lighting is white on weekdays, and in colour at weekends. It is self cleaning in that on each opening litter is collected in traps at each end of the bridge. We walked across to visit the Baltic Centre from its viewing deck to this photo.

2 – Tyne Bridge

Grade II* listed Tyne Bridge is the dominant symbol of Newcastle. It’s striking steel arch design is the largest single-span steel arch bridge on the British Isles. The supporting Art Deco towers are as impressive as the arch. Designer Sir Ralph Freeman used a similar design for Sydney Harbour Bridge. While we drove over the bridge, it’s popular  with pedestrians.

3 – Swing Bridge

This Grade II* bridge is my favourite of the seven bridges. Opened in 1876, at the time of construction it was the largest swing bridge ever built. Built to improve navigation and expand trade to the upper reaches of the river for larger vessels, it was designed and constructed by the Sir W.G. Armstrong company to allow ships to access its works and shipyard.

The original hydraulic mechanisms are still used to move the bridge today, although the pumps are now electrically powered rather than the original steam power. Once in frequent use, the bridge now opens around four times a week. Available for road and pedestrian traffic we walked across its twice.

4 – High Level Bridge

The Grade 1 listed High Level Bridge was constructed between 1846 to 49. It is a double deck structure of arch and suspension design. The upper railway deck is carried on 6 ribbed arches supported by stone piers; the road suspended from the arches by wrought iron rods.

Following a restoration in 2008 the roadway on the lower deck is now open for southbound (Newcastle to Gateshead) buses and taxis only, reducing the loads on the bridge. Pedestrians and cyclists still use the original footpaths at each side of the roadway.  We walked over the bridge from one side to the other, and enjoyed the views over the river. The photo above of the Swing Bridge was taken from the High Level Bridge

5 – Metro Bridge

Opened in 1981 by Queen Elizabeth II the steel truss Metro Bridge carries the Tyne and Wear Metro over the River Tyne. Either side of the river the Metro emerges from a tunnel. My photo, below, doesn’t show the the strong blue colour of the paint [see it in all it’s glory in the photo of the King Edward VII bridge below]. While not as attractive as the other bridges, its pleasing functional design provides variety in bridge design.

6 – King Edward VII Railway Bridge

Yet another of the listed bridges over the Tyne. The King Edward VII railway bridge is Grade II listed. It is a handsome bridge, with the bridge deck consisting of steel lattice girders of the double Warren truss type. Opened in 1906 by the then King, it carries four railway tracks of the East Coast main railway line over the river. This is not one of my photos. It’s from Wikipedia Commons.

7 – Redheugh Bridge

This is the bridge, carrying the A189 that we used to arrive in Newcastle upon Tyne.  Opened in 1983 by the Princess of Wales it is of pre-stressed concrete design. Notably with no structure above the deck it is vulnerable to high winds, and also gives the illusion of being the highest of the seven bridges. To my mind it’s the least attractive of the seven bridges, and not in keeping with the wonders of the other bridges. I guess likely money was the main issue. Again this photo is not mine. It’s from Wikipedia Commons.

Conclusion. Were I to rank the bridges, I would have the Swing Bridge as number 1, then the Tyne Bridge at 2, followed by the High Level Bridge at 3, Millenium Bridge at 4, Metro Bridge at 5, King Edward VII Bridge at 6, and lastly Redheugh Bridge at 7.

Tower Bridge celebrates its 125th anniversary

On 30 June 1894 Tower Bridge was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales, making this year its 125th anniversary.

The City of London Corporation oversee the management of the bridge by Bridge House Estates. Events to celebrate the 125th anniversary can be viewed at

Discussions about the need to find a solution to the river crossing problem at the Pool of London began with the Special Bridge or Subway Committee in 1877.

Over 50 designs were submitted. It was not till 1884 that a design was approved. The proposed design by Sir John Wolfe Barry and Sir Horace Jones wsa for a [from Wikipedia] “bascule bridge with two bridge towers built on piers. The central span was split into two equal bascules or leaves, which could be raised to allow river traffic to pass. The two side-spans were suspension bridges, with the suspension rods anchored both at the abutments and through rods contained within the bridge’s upper walkways.”

An Act of Parliament was passed in 1885 authorising the bridge’s construction, specifying an opening span of 200 feet (61 m) and a headroom of 135 feet (41 m). Construction began in 1886 and took eight years to complete. The Portland stone and Cornish granite cladding were to protect the steel framework, and to give a pleasing and harmonious association to the adjacent Tower of London.

Looking at the bridge today it’s difficult to imagine how it was constructed. Photos taken during the construction shown how it was done. [Photos courtesy of Huffington Post, Wikipedia and Londonist].

A couple of days of photos: No.7 – Two bridges over the River Dart

I’ve said here, often enough, that my photography skills are such that I call myself a happy snapper.

There are occasions when I try hard to compose a photo, and make it pleasing to me, and hopefully pleasing to viewers. Here’s one of my rarely carefully composed photos.

It was taken in May last year while we were in holiday in South Devon. We took a drive, from our base in Totnes, to Dartmoor. Feeling in need of refreshment, we stopped at the Two Bridges Hotel, at Two Bridges in the Dartmoor National Park.

I like old bridges. I like learning about old bridges, and I like photographing them. Here’s my photo of the two bridges over the River Dart. The old bridge is in the foreground, and the newer, main road, bridge can be seen through the central span.

Crossing the Bilbao estuary on the world’s oldest Transporter Bridge

A smattering of stories about our recent holiday to Bilbao is what I promised. Here’s the first, about an unusual bridge.

Bilbao sits astride the tidal Nervion River, whose outlet is into the Bay of Biscay. Not far to the north of Bilbao, near the mouth of the river, is the world’s oldest transporter bridge connecting the two towns, Portugalete [left side bank] and Getxo [right side bank].

The bridge has a number of names, Bizkaia Bridge in Basque language, Vizcaya Bridge in Spanish, and commonly known locally as Puente Colgante [“Hanging Bridge”].

Built between 1890 and 1893 by Alberto de Palacio in cooperation with Ferdinand Arnodin. Palacio was a disciple of Gustave Eiffel. During the Spanish civil war the bridge suffered, with the crossbeam being destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1941. In 1998 a modernised gondola was inaugurated, and in 1999 a walkway across the crossbeam.

On 13th July 2006 the bridge was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. We crossed the river on the bridge – price remarkably cheap, just 40 cents. On the Portugalete side are images of other transporter bridges, including three in the UK. Here are our photos of the bridge.


Plans unveiled for new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Thames between Pimlico and Nine Elms

The growth of London is relentless – a good thing too as it’s currently a major engine room of the UK economy.

The majority of new skyscrapers in London aren’t for business occupation, but are residential. The Nine Elms area south of the river is a case in point. With the new US Embassy being the key draw, the latest expansion is a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Thames, between Pimlico and Nine Elms.

This week Wandsworth Council unveiled the shortlist of designs for the bridge. There’s a dedicated website to view the designs in detail – SEE HERE. There’s an online survey to which submissions are invited, saying,

You are invited to look at the work on display and provide feedback using the form below.  Survey comments received before 18.30 on Friday 24 July 2015 will be sent to the Jury Panel for inclusion in its deliberations.  Any comments received after that date will be reviewed by the Nine Elms Development Team.

Some really interesting designs to review.