History of the Tyne Bridge

History of the Tyne Bridge

One of seven road bridges crossing the River Tyne, the Grade II* listed bridge was officially opened on 10 October 1928 by King George V and has since become a defining symbol of the North East.

Built for the new age of the motorised-vehicle and to cope with increasing traffic crossing the Tyne, the steel and granite bridge was a major engineering feat of the early 20th century.

At the time of its construction, the Tyne Bridge was the world’s longest span bridge.

The King and Queen were first to cross the bridge on the King’s state landau horse-drawn carriage, as thousands of people lined the streets for the opening ceremony. 20,000 school children were given the day off to mark the occasion.

Construction of the bridge started in August 1925 using shipbuilding techniques by local shipyard workers and was regarded as a prototype for the construction of Sydney Harbour Bridge, which was completed four years later (although work started first on Sydney Harbour Bridge).

It had the same design team as Sydney Harbour Bridge.

On that design team was the first woman to gain entry to the Institute of Civil Engineers (in 1927) Dorothy Buchanan of Langholm, Dumfriesshire.

One worker died. Nathaniel Collins, a 33-year-old scaffolder from South Shields, fell from bridge on 18 February 1928.

The arch of the bridge was built simultaneously from each bank. When they were 9inches apart special jacking apparatus pushed the two halves together then they were riveted into place.

Nowadays over 70,000 vehicles use the bridge each day as it’s one of the busiest routes into and out of Newcastle – which is the only local authority area in the North East that attracts more trips every day than it exports.

The Tyne Bridge is also a key part of the annual great North Run as 54,000 runners pass over the bridge accompanied by a display from the Red Arrows.

75th anniversary was the last commemorative events for the bridge’s birthday hosted by the local mayors from Gateshead and Newcastle

The bridge was upgraded to Grade II* listed status in August 2018 as part of the Great Exhibition of the North. https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/news/tyne-bridge-upgraded/ and is one of only 5.8% of structures in England which are Grade II* listed. The rating means the bridge is a particularly important structure of more than special interest.

On its 90th birthday, over 90 female engineers from across the country gathered in Newcastle to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Tyne Bridge, and the female engineer behind the design.

The bridge is also used as part of city dressing for large events including 2012 Olympics, 2015 Rugby World Cup and more recently, 2019 European Rugby Finals.


More information about the history of the bridge can be found at https://co-curate.ncl.ac.uk/tyne-bridge/

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