|The bridge has a perfect structural
shape of a parabolic arch
It's the bridge that Geordies come
home for. The Tyne Bridge celebrates
its 75th anniversary this year. We turn back time and recall the building
of this famous Tyneside icon.
The Tyne Bridge is one of the greatest symbols of Tynesides
industrial pride and engineering prowess.
Built in 1928, the Tyne Bridge was a major engineering
triumph in its day and remains a miracle of modern design 75 years on.
Built from steel and granite, the bridge has come to
symbolise all that is best about the Tyneside industrial tradition and
its history of engineering and innovation.
Spanning the Tyne
It was back in the late 19th century that the city fathers
started talking about building a new Tyne Bridge to ease traffic congestion
and provide a splendid new river crossing.
|The Tyne Bridge
starts to take shape in 1928
But it wasnt until 1924 that plans to build today's
bridge started to take shape.
Work began in August 1925 and it took just three years
to complete the giant structure.
The bridge was built like a ship, using shipbuilding techniques with rivets
and panels which were welded together.
As the bridge arches started to appear, it was clear that this was a grand
feat of engineering prowess.
'Spidermen' on the bridge
The bridge builders risked their lives high above the
waters of the Tyne, scaling heights and structures with the agility of
was a single span structure so it did not obstruct river traffic
Perched over 80 feet above the river, the men worked
without the benefit of safety harnesses and ropes. Their agility and ability
to work at great heights was second to none.
Despite the dangers of the building work, only one worker
died in what was to prove a mammoth task.
Nathaniel Collins was a scaffold erector, a very dangerous
job. He fell a hundred feet from the bridge and hit the water, fracturing
His family remembers that he had worked as a ship's
plater and then served in the First World War. "He was a man who
knew no fear."
was built by an army of riveters
As far as we know none of the men who built the bridge
are alive today but we do have the testament of their relatives.
Julie Fox's grandfather and father built the bridge -
they called her dad 'Spider Wilson'.
She recalls how he walked along the skeletal frame of
the bridge without any fear of the height or falling if he made one false
Health and safety issues weren't high on the agenda.
"I think it was very, very scary because they had
no harnesses and they just used to walk along the big steel cables and
everything," says Julie.
Newcastle versus Sydney
The total cost of the bridge was
Built by Dorman Long of Middlesbrough.
The road deck is 84 feet above the water.
The bridge has a 531 feet span.
The weight of the bridge is 7,112 metric tonnes.
The Tyne Bridges towers were built of Cornish
granite and were designed as warehouses with five storeys.
Passenger and goods lifts were built in the towers to provide access
to the Quayside. These are still in use today.
Buildings demolished to make way for the bridge -
the Goat Inn, the Earl of Durham, the Ridley Arms, the Steamboat
Inn, Ray's lodging house, a powder mill, a pickle factory and a
The bridge was originally painted green with special paint made
by J. Dampney Co. of Gateshead. The same colours were used to paint
the bridge for its Millennium year.
There's been much talk about who was first to complete
this engineering feat with both Newcastle and Sydney vying for the honour
of having 'the first Tyne Bridge'.
In reality Sydney was first to start work on its bridge
and provided the template for the Tyne Bridge.
The Tyne Bridge was designed by Mott, Hay and Anderson
who based their design on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
This in turn was derived its design from the Hell Gate
Bridge in New York.
Its long been thought that the Sydney Harbour
Bridge in Australia was based on the Tyne Bridge.
This is not the case and a quick look at the dates proves
Work started on the Sydney Bridge before building began
on the Tyne Bridge.
The confusion arises because the Sydney Harbour Bridge
took longer to complete due to its larger size.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge finally opened in 1932, three
years after the Tyne Bridge.
Celebrating the Tyne Bridge
The bridge was completed and opened in 1928 by King George
V and the Queen who were the first to use the roadway travelling in their
Hundreds of people lined the quaysides to see the new
modern marvel of the age and to cheer the royal opening party.
It was a day that was remembered for a very long time
by those lucky enough to be there.
|Workers on the top span of the
Today the Tyne Bridge is renowned around the world, and
rivals its counterpart - the Sydney Harbour Bridge - as one of the great
bridges of the world.
It's even been celebrated in miniature form by the artist
Chris Burden who designed an exact replica for the opening exhibition
at the BALTIC in Gateshead in 2002.
It's a measure of the Tyne Bridge's lasting legacy that
it still elicits so much passion, pride and power amongst Geordies and
Happy birthday Tyne Bridge!