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The Tyne Bridge is the most famous of the six bridges that cross the river between Newcastle and Gateshead. It was built in 1928 and, instantly recognisable, has come to symbolise the city. It’s often said that the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia was based on the Tyne Bridge, though I've also read that it was the other way round and that the Australians got in first - but try telling that to a Geordie!
The road is 84 feet above the water and the bridge has a 531 foot span. There's a passenger lift in the tower on the north (Newcastle) side that will take you between road level and the quay-side below.
Bridges across the Tyne...
The bridges that cross the gorge at the centre of the connurbation that divides Newcastle from Gateshead has long been seen as a 'must see'.
The most historic bridge is of course the Tyne bridge, which many people (incorrectly) think was the prototype to the Sydney Harbour bridge. It was built by the same company and has a similar shape. It is still the main road link over the Tyne. It's 'glory day' is on the day of the Great North Run, which happens every year in September. Up to about 50,000 runners pour over the bridge then (see seperate tip).
Stephensons High level bridge is also worth a look, and is another one that you can actually walk over and get some terrific views. It rather unusually take both rail and road traffic.
The Swing bridge is low down on the quayside, and literally turns itself around 90 degrees as a ship approaches.
The new kid on the block is the Millenium bridge opposite the Baltic Gallery. It is well worth seeing it in operation, as the footbridge kind of 'blinks' to provide as much clearance as the Tyne bridge iteself.
Explore them via a walk down both sides of the river, and take an opportunity to walk across a couple.
Much scope for photography.
The Millennium Bridge
This is the most recent addition to the iconic set of bridges that span the Tyne in the centre of the city, and possibly my favourite. But please don’t offend the Gateshead folk on the other side of the river by describing this as a bridge in Newcastle! The full name of this bridge is in fact the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. It was commissioned by the council to commemorate the millennium and link new developments on either side of the river, including the gallery at Baltic, the old flour mill. It certainly succeeds in doing that and makes it easy for anyone on the Newcastle side to pop across to check out the latest exhibits or have a meal in the restaurant there.
The bridge is for use by pedestrians and cyclists only, as there is no traffic by the river at this point. The brief was to create a bridge allowed ships to pass underneath and didn’t overshadow or spoil the world famous view of the existing bridges. The design solution was to create this light structure which contrasts really well with the solidity of the other bridges, and to engineer it in a way that allows it to tilt upwards for ships to pass. When it does so it looks just like an eye winking! These days there aren’t a large number of large ships navigating the river so it isn’t required to do this frequently. But you can find out the times when the bridge will “wink” on the website below. One regular occurrence is each Sunday just after midday so if you’re on the Quayside at this time do go along to watch, as it’s quite a sight. Each opening and closing takes four and a half minutes and both arches tilt at once – the one that carries the walkway/cycleway, and the one that supports it from above.
Another sight worth catching is of the bridge at night. It is lit up in an ever-changing spectrum of colour, and, from what I’ve observed, the patterns can be different on different nights. Sometimes there are rainbow colours (befitting the shape!) and sometimes each colour appears separately. The website says:
“The arch is lit with a series of high-powered lights which change colour to add to the design. In the week it is lit with a crystal white light and at weekends it changes to a spectrum of colours.”
However on our recent visits I have certainly seen coloured lights on a weeknight so maybe they are used all the time now, or at least more often.
Gateshead Millenium Bridge
Steve was very keen to stress that this is the GATESHEAD Millenium Bridge - not just the Millenium Bridge or that "Blinking Bridge" in Newcastle. So called as this world's first tilting bridge its designed to resemble a blinking eyelid when raised to permit ships to pass beneath. Unfortunately it wasn't in operation the day we were here :-(
The tilting bridge...
If you are in Newcastle/Gateshead you have to go down to the Quayside and watch how this magnificent, 800k ton, round bridge is tilting. It is amazing when you realise that it is so well balanced that it only takes a tiny amount of energy to move it.
Famous bridges in Newcastle/Gateshead
This is just one of several bridges in Newcastle/Gateshead that are worth taking a look at. Apparently this is the oldest, hydraulic bridge in the world (hydraulics, by the way, were invented in this region). It is sometimes called the swinging bridge. When it is required, the whole bridge rotates around its central platform.
Bridges and Quayside
You can't go to Newcastle without going down to the river (Quayside) and admire the bridges! The skyline is fantastic!
There's 7 bridges along the river Tyne connecting Newcastle with its neighbour Gateshead. All are at different levels which makes the view down the river very interesting. It's always a few of the bridges you see!
I'll introduce 4 of the bridges to you in the next tips.
This bridge looks like the little brother of Sydney's Harbour Bridge. It was opened in 1928 - four years before the one in Sydney was opened and back then it was the largest single span bridge in the world. Guess which bridge broke the record 4 years later ;)
Both bridges were built by Dorman Long from Middlesbrough.
And once again: A new Millennium Bridge. Seems like every city needs one these days ;)
This bridge is special though: When ships want to pass it doesn't lift, it turns! I would have loved to see this but we missed it by a few minutes. There's a sign at the bridge telling visitors at what time it opens.
The High Level Bridge
This is my favourite bridge I think. Opened in 1849 it is also the oldest of Newcastle's bridges as well as the highest - hence the name.
The bridge is a combined railway and road bridge - actually the first of its kind! The top level is for trains, the road is on the level underneath.
- Road Trip
Until recently, and perhaps still, the Tyne Bridge was the one thing that symbolised Newcastle in most peoples minds. It is still stands as a glowing testemant to The city's industrial might.
The main span is of the bridge is 531ft, it has a clear headway over the river of 84ft, 2ft higher than the High Level Bridge.
King George V accompanied by H.M Queen Mary opened the Tyne Bridge on 10th October 1928 .
The Tyne Bridge cost £700,000 to build but recently it has just finished a makeover costing £1.8 million.
The granite-faced towers were intended to be used as warehouses consisting of 5 floors but the floors were never completed.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Take a walk along the Quayside, and admire the bridges!! The newest one is a footbridge, opened for the millennium, and known as the "Blinking Eye", due to the way it tilts on opening. The Tyne Bridge is probably our most famous, being the twin brother of the Sydney Harbour bridge.
For the best impact, go at night, when the bridges are all beautifully lit. That way, you can stop for a drink in one of the many pubs too!
Technically called the Gateshead Milleniun Bridge, £22million bridge was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and engineers Gifford and Partners. Work first started on the bridge in May 1999. the bridge is for pedestrian traffic only. The bridge has a unique opening structure, not dissimilar to that of an eye. It does not open very often though, so dont hold your breath. (times are posted)
The Bridge is the first opening bridge to be built across the River Tyne for more than 100 years. It has become a link between Newcastle and Gateshead just west of the Baltic Flour Mill, which now house the Batic Centre for contempory arts.
- Arts and Culture
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Gateshead Millenium Bridge
This bridge was opened in November 2000 and is the world's only tilting bridge! The bridge only opens or tilts at certain times and only by chance we saw this taking place with a bird's eye view from the external viewing platform of the Baltic centre! (Please look at all of the photos to show the sequence).
It provides a link between the Gateshead and Newcastle quayside and is the only purpose built bridge on the River Tyne for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Swing Bridge
This hydraulically operated swing bridge was completed and opened for road traffic without any ceremony on the 15th June 1876.
The swinging portion was first used on the 17th July 1876 when the "Europa" of the Italian Navy, passed up to the Elswick Ordnance Works to take on board a gun weighing 100 tons for the Italian Government.
The cost of the bridge was £240,432 1s 7d.
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Newcastle upon Tyne Travel Guide
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