Gateshead and Newcastle

There are many Millennium bridges, large and small, up and down the country, displaying many fine features. But pride of place must surely go to the two "big boys" - Gateshead and London. The history of the London bridge has been dogged with disaster, which leaves the 22 million Gateshead bridge, with its unique opening mechanism, as the front runner in the hall of fame. The bridge was opened on 17 September 2001. Although known as the Gateshead bridge, it does of course link up to Newcastle on the north bank.

There is no shortage of websites recording and describing this amazing piece of engineering. The best site for factual information is the Gateshead Borough site which also includes a timetable for times of the bridge opening. More detailed information about the bridge construction is given in an article in Architecture Week .

Of course, the really distinctive feature of the bridge - which has both restricted and inspired the design is that it should open to let river traffic pass through. The bridge is open a few times a week, although it has to be said that little of the traffic appears to be the commercial traffic of Tyne port. The only occasions on which I have seen it open are to let a pleasure boat (a boozy night out for the lads, or maybe a hen night) cruise through only to turn round and sail straight back out again down-river. 

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Newcastle does have its very own striking modern bridge in the form of the Northumbria University Footbridge.

Although now by-passed by the Newcastle By-Pass (re-route A1), the Newcastle Central Motorway A167(M) originally carried all the traffic from the old Great North Road  to the Tyne Bridge and onwards to the south. At the time of construction, a fairly narrow footbridge was built across the motorway linking Camden Street to Radnor Street.

Newcastle Polytechnic, founded 1969, became the University of Northumbria in 1992 and there followed a period of rapid expansion including the development of the City Campus which layin two halves divided by the Motorway. A new purpose-built footbridge which provided a much more direct link between City Campus East and West was constructed over the motorway over the weekend 5 to 7 May, 2007, well illustrated in a time-lapse youtube video. The bridge was opened by Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham, Minister of State for Trade and Investment on 22 January, 2008.

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