South East Wales

£8m work 'could up Newport Transporter Bridge visitors'

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Media captionDavid Hando, chairman of FONTB, said he hopes visitor hours could eventually be extended

There are hopes an £8m funding bid to improve Newport's Transporter Bridge could help double its annual visitor numbers.

Newport council has applied for Heritage Lottery funding for repairs, maintenance and a bigger visitor centre.

The charity that helps run it hopes it could lead to extended opening hours - attracting 40,000 visitors a year.

The council's heritage officer said the work would secure the bridge's future.

The money is needed to carry out repairs to the Grade I-listed structure and restore its Edwardian gondola back to its former glory as parts of the original have been removed.

The council also wants to create a bigger and better visitor centre with improved facilities, which The Friends of the Newport Transporter Bridge (FONTB) charity hopes could include more parking and a cafe.

Work to strengthen a bridge on the east approach to the Transporter Bridge could also be carried out, as well maintenance on cables which strengthen the upper boom between the two towers.

The bridge attracts more than 20,000 people from all over the world every year and is open from 29 March to 1 October.

David Hando, chairman of FONTB which runs the visitor centre, said the aim was to improve the tourist experience in a bid to double that figure.

"The preservation of the bridge is the most important thing but then to get a new more workable visitors centre would be ideal so that we can do our work properly," he said.

Mike Lewis, Newport council's museums and heritage officer, said if the council was successful in getting funding, the project would mean no major work would be needed for another 30 years.

He said: "The bridge is of a structure - it's metal, it's in an aggressive environment, it's always rusting, it just never stops, so every so often we have to invest in repairs and maintenance beyond the norm and this is what this project is about, really.

"It's about making sure this bridge is available for our children to go and visit and see."

Opened in 1906, the bridge was built at the request of steelworks owner John Lysaght, who wanted workers living on the Pill side of the River Usk to be able to get to the factory on the side quickly.

A gondola, suspended from cables attached to a high level boom, transports cars, cyclists and pedestrians across the water.

Image copyright Robin Drayton/Geograph

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