Excuse me but where is Middlesbrough?
Walk from North Ormesby
Sources and Resources
Only a Short Time in History
Memories of Parliament Road
Football on the Roof
St Patrick's Church
The Tees (Newport) Bridge
Don't Mention the War?
Laws Street Block
Albert Park and 'Owld 'Enry
An Ayresome Childhood
St Paul's School
Victoria St/Greta St Now
The 'New' Newport School
Newport Bombing 15 April 1942
Closing of St Paul's School
More Memories of Parliament Rd.
Round and About King George Street
Memories of Duncombe Street
Honeymans of Cannon Street
Sun Sea & Sand
Fox Heads Page 1
Why DOGGY Town??
Fox Heads Page 2
Memories of St Paul's
A Mohawk in Middlesbrough
Remembering Craven Street
Marsh Road School
Luftwaffe Over Middlesbrough
First World War Shell Explodes in Middlesbrough
Queries:Can You Help?
St Columba's Parish in the Sixties
More Street Games
Memories Baxter Street
Judith's Middlesbrough Childhood
Links for Newport, Middlesbrough
|The website URL is Bridge Ender because that is often how we, at the west end of Cannon Street, described our location the bridge end.
The towers of the Newport Bridge towered over our skyline as can be seen in the background of our play area 'Cooper Common'.
|Of course Teesside’s famous bridge is the Transporter---the ‘Tranny’. This is a view down river from the Middlesbrough side with the Eston Hills in the background. (The Eston Hills is where the iron ore seam was found on 8th June 1850 which turned Middlesbrough from a small coal exporting town with a fledgling iron works into the centre of a major iron producing area.)This was taken from some distance away but you can just see the carriage going across. The Transporter was first brought to world wide notice in the film Billy Elliot.Its celebrity was further enhanced when a series of the TV comedy drama Aufwiedersehen Pet featured it. The gang Oz, Dennis etc were commissioned to dismantle it and sell it to a native American tribe in Arizona. Apparently some people thought this was for real ! |
The Tranny's Still Here!
|And just to prove it, here's a picture of our close family friend, Anne, abseiling from the top of it a height of about 150 feet. (I got a bad attack of vertigo standing on a low wall to take the photo!)|
The Next Bridge Along is Worth a Look as well!
|The Transporter was the solution to reconciling the need to cross the river with the need for ships to sail up it. The banks of the Tees are very low so conventional bridges were not practical. Higher up river at Newport a different engineering solutionwas employed. The precision and elegant engineering of the Tees Bridge (Newport Bridge) I think was far more imaginative than the Transporter but then I concede I am probably prejudiced because I grew up in the shadow of this bridge.
This Bridge just lifted up out of the way
The Gentle Giant
|They say “Never go back..you’ll only be disappointed. It is generally true that when you go back to look at things you know from childhood, what usually strikes you is, that what you remember as being ever so big is, in fact, rather small. However the first time I revisited the Newport Bridge was in 2003 ferrying my cousin Eric around. (He had left Middlesbrough as an eleven year so was making a ‘nostalgia’ trip.) When I looked up at the bridge from the river bank , far from perceiving it as smaller I was astounded at how gigantic it seemed. As a kid I never really looked at it. I frequently played on it, and on the riverbank alongside it, but I never took any real notice of it. It had been completed nine years before I was born so there was no novelty about it for me. It was just there. It’s only now I marvel at the precision of the engineering.
Watching a video made of the last time it was lifted and lowered (18th November 1990) I was impressed at how gently it ‘touched down’. I suppose it would have to- otherwise the approach roads either side would be constantly damaged.! This was achieved by a fine balancing system. The lifting span is precisely balanced by counterweights.( It is these counterweights which contribute to the square look of the tops of the towers when seen from a distance.) Cast iron chains also counterbalance the weight of the wire ropes.
Some Facts and Figures
|The Newport Bridge was built by Teesside firm Dorman Long. The construction began in 1931 and it was opened to traffic on 28th February 1934. It was built over what had been the Newport Ferry Crossing. A considerable number of houses had to be removed for its approach road on the Middlesbrough side. The west side of Samuelson St and the east side of Calvert St were demolished and the original hamlet of Newport was also cleared. The 70 or so families were mostly rehoused in the new housing estate being built at Whinney Banks.
The Newport Bridge was the only lift bridge of its kind in the U.K. and was the biggest in the world.
Length of Lifting Span is 270 feet (82m)
Clearance above high water when fully lifted was 120 feet (37m)
Height of towers above high water 182 feet (55m)
Weight of lifting span and counterweights 5400 tons(6993 metric tonnes)
It was lifted by by two 325 H.P. (242 kw) electric motors with a standby petrol engine of 450 H.P.(336kw). It took 2 mins 30 secs to raise the lifting span with the electric motors and 2 mins with the petrol engine.
The weight of steel in each tower is 1120 tons ( 1138 tonnes) and 1530 tons(1741 tonnes)in the lifting span. Some years ago a letter writer to the local evening paper suggested that as the lifting span was now bolted down the towers could be removed and the steel recycled for scrap. The bolting in itself, of course, is not sufficient to support the span which is still held in place by the balance of the eight counterweights at the tops of the towers.
In the 1940s and early 1950s it was raised almost every day but as fewer ships needed to sail up to Stockton its usage declined. Finally on the 18th November in 1990 it was ceremoniously raised and lowered for the last time. Thereafter the lifting span was bolted down.
It still serves as a bridge and carries considerable traffic even though the A19 flyover is just a few hundred yards further upriver. It provides a useful alternative crossing whenever work is being carried out on the A19 flyover or whenever an accident temporarily closes that crossing.
Bridge Builders to the World
|I’ve already mentioned that the 2002 series of the TV comedy-drama Aufwiedersehen,Pet was partly set in Middlesbrough. The crew of three itinerant Geordie brickies with their four mates from around the country, having tried their hand in Germany and Spain, now were hired to demolish the Transporter Bridge. This they did (by means of impressive computer graphics) and sold it to a tribe of Native Americans in Arizona who needed a bridge to get customers over a canyon to their casino. You’ll agree- an everyday sort of story. It had its merits. The story line allowed Newcastle musician, Mark Knopfler, to come up with a theme song, the lyrics of which show that the Geordie dialect is of Native American origin. (Why aye-yay-yay). The scriptwriters were clever enough to realise that hiring four brickies a Scouse plasterer, a Wolverhampton electrician and a Cockney disco organiser, in reality, could raise credibility problems for the story. O.K. the electrician could have disconnected the two 22.5 kw electric motors which power the Tranny. The disco gadgie, of course, could have organised it all to that well loved disco melody Aga Doo-Doo-Doo Unbolt that girder Winch it down. . However given that the Tranny isn’t actually built of bricks and plaster it is difficult to envisage what the brickies and the plasterer would do. So the writer wrote in an expert bridge builder to advise and he was brought over from Northern Ireland. Sorry..but .. this is where the story lost plausibility for me. Brnging an expert bridge builder to Teesside would be like carrying coals to Newcastle (before Mag Thatch closed all the pits, that is). You see along with making iron , steel and chemicals, building bridges is what we’re really good at., not only over our own river but over a lot of other people’s rivers as well.
If the writers had looked in the Yellow Pages they would have seen that the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company who built the Transporter in 1911 is still around.( The clue that they would know about bridges is in the word ‘bridge’ in their company name).
Teessiders have built bridges all over the world including the Geordies’ very own favourite bridge the Tyne Bridge built by Dorman Long of Middlesbrough – opened 10th October 1928.
We all know that lyrical Tyneside folksong “Waters of Tyne.”
I could not get tae my love if Aa wad dee
The waters of Tyne cem betwixt her and me.
Sae thor Aa wad stand wiv a tear in my ee
Till the Smoggies cem and built a bridge
Ower them for me.
Oh aye, and, by the way, we, well, Cleveland Bridge & Engineering, also built the Geordies' railway bridge..the King Edward VII Bridge
And a Canny Few More Bridges an'all!
If Australians recognise the shape of the Tyne Bridge it's because their Sydney Harbour Bridge was also built by Dorman Long of Middlesbrough. Apparently the citizens of Sydney refer to their bridge as the 'coat-hanger' It was opened in 1932. To mention just a few others built by Teesside firms
New Lambeth Bridge, London
Menai Straits Bridge, Wales
Strostrom Bridge, Denmark
Limpopo Bridge,South Africa
More Bridges Across the Tees
Another interesting site is written by , Chris Kenyon Chris details all the bridges over the lower Tees.
A Place to Play
|But as I wrote, all the wondrous engineering of the Tees Bridge was unnoticed by us when we were kids. It was just the greatest place to play. We could hide behind the girders to shoot at each other in cowboy games.We could even clamber so far up. Even when the man we called the Bridge -Gadgie' came to chase us away this was just part of the fun.
Trascey Freeman-Ward tells me that the 'Bridge Gadgie' was Tommy Wallace who lived up Whinney banks and the man who controlled the ascent and descent of the bridge was Cliff Husband who lived in Stratford Crescent in the West lane area.
Watching the Ships Go By
|When the bridge went up we would often gather at the top of a gangway which ran down on the west side of the bridge so we could wave at the ship just before it sailed under the lifted span. The sailors always waved back. I had a set of Arthur Mee's 'Children's Encyclopaedia' . In Volume 10 there was a section showing the maps of all the countries in the world. Some times I would take this to look up the ship's flag. We always had plenty of time to get to the bridge to watch the ships because the bridge used to start lifting long before the ship reached it. The steps we climbed up to get on to the bridge are still there.
This is Fred's sketch of the steps and the
lecky i.e. the electricity sub-station alongside on which we also used to play.
| The steps and the 'lecky' are still there. Tony took this photo in November 2005|
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