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BRIDGES OF NEWCASTLE

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When considering the crossings of the Tyne, we are forcibly reminded of the great floods of November 1771, which swept away all the bridges except the one at Corbridge..

About 2 am Sunday morning the inhabitants of Newcastle were abruptly woken by the dreadful fate that had fallen upon them.  The Tyne due to a massive flood had engulfed all buildings along the Tyne, the flood was 6 feet higher then any previous flood.  The old Tyne bridge of 9 arches had houses built along it.  The middle arch gave way under such massive pressure from the flood and then two other arches on the gateshead side collapsed  Below a view of the the Tyne bridge after the flood..

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Seven houses and some shops with some people were carried away.  Next day four more houses and shops fell into the river.  A Mr Fiddes and his wife, a maid and 2 children were left stranded on top of a crumbling pier in perishing cold till 10am.  They were saved by a bricklayer, who broke through shops still standing and got planks across the gap.  The water had risen more than 12 feet above high water marks for spring tides.  A lot of boats and small craft were swept away to be wrecked against the Black Middens at Tynemouth or swept out to sea.

Almost everything along the path of the Tyne was devastated or swept away.  Majority of the small villages up the Tyne were completely under water villages like Haydon Bridge and Bywell Horses, cattle, sheep,corn and hay were all swept away from these villages.  St Andrews church suffered badly, the church yard wall was swept away and much of the church yard, "Dead bodies and coffins were torn out of the churchyard and the living and the dead clashed in the torrent".  At Newcastle the bridge continued to crumble and six more shops and houses fell into the river.  All houses on both sides of the river had been demolished and it was necessary to build a new bridge.  A temporary bridge was built over the Tyne at Newcastle in 1772 and in 1774 the building of a new bridge was begun on the site of the old which can be seen below.

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There are 6 Bridges spanning the River Tyne the most famous of the bridges has to be

The Tyne Bridge

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Construction of the bridge back in 1928

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The Tyne bridge is the most outstanding of the six and is by far the best known feature of  Tyneside. Opened in 1929 by King George V and built by Dorman Long of Middlesbrough, it served as a model for the similar, but very much larger Sydney Harbour Bridge which was also built at Middlesbrough, and shippped out to Australia in seperate parts.

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The Swing Bridge

Lowest of the bridges is the Swing Bridge of 1876, which leads directly into the heart of the Newcastle Quayside below the castle keep. Designed by the famous Tyneside engineer William Armstrong (1810-1900), it is located on the site of the Roman and medieval bridge. During the construction of this swing bridge, two Roman altars were dredged from the river dedicated to the gods Neptune and Oceanus. They would have belonged to a shrine built to protect the Roman  bridge of Pons Aelius from the tidal Tyne.

The hydraulically-operated swivel mechanism allowed taller fixed-mast vessels to reach further upstream than hitherto.

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The High Level Bridge

(1849) was built in conjunction with the opening of the Central Station in Newcastle, built by Robert Stephenson and for the first time linked Newcastle with London by rail (previously, trains stopped at Gateshead). In addition to the railway, the lower deck of this bridge carries a roadway - another innovation of its day.  

The remaining bridges are more functional affairs.

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The King Edward VII Bridge

The King Edward bridge was built in 1906 by Cleveland Bridge of Darlington, while the Redheugh  and Queen Elizabeth II bridges are more modern structures, the former built of concrete the latter a steel structure

Provided more capacity for the expanding railway system.

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The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge

(the Metro Bridge) marked the transition from goods to passenger traffic on the rail system.

The last bridge to be completed, the new Redheugh road bridge, replaced an earlier bridge and  is intended to distribute traffic away from the city centre.

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Baltic Millenium Bridge

A seventh bridge will be added across the Tyne to celebrate the year 2000. The Baltic millennium Bridge, due to be completed by Easter 2000, will be a pedestrian and cycle bridge providing access from Newcastle to the site of the redesigned Baltic Flour Mill. Cyclists will use the outer deck of the bridge which is slightly lower than the inner pedestrian walkway and will made of aluminium, with gaps to view the river below. Pedestrians will be able to stop at several points along the bridge to sit on built-in benches, taking in the impressive up-stream views of the six existing bridges.

Being at river level, the Millennium Bridge will sometimes need to be opened to allow ships to sail up and down the Tyne. The opening mechanism raises the bridge in an arc, in a similar movement to that of an eye-lid opening.   The 130ft long bridge will cost approximately £18.5m, with around half of that cost coming from money raised by the National Lottery for the Millennium Commission.

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