The Tyne Bridge is a through arch bridge over the River Tyne in North East England, linking Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead. The Bridge was designed by the engineering firm Mott, Hay and Anderson,[1] who later designed the Forth Road Bridge, and was built by Dorman Long and Co. of Middlesbrough.[2] The bridge was officially opened on 10 October 1928 by King George V and has since become a defining symbol of Tyneside. It is ranked as the tenth tallest structure in the city.

History of construction

The 1781 stone bridge, with the High Level Bridge in the background, from an 1861 illustration
Tyne Bridge viewed from Quayside

The earliest bridge across the Tyne, Pons Aelius, was built by the Romans on the site of the present Swing Bridge around 122.[3]

Work started in August 1925 with Dorman Long acting as the building contractors. Despite the dangers of the building work, only one worker, Nathaniel Collins, a father of four and a local scaffolder from South Shields, died in the building of this structure.[4]

The Tyne Bridge was designed by Mott, Hay and Anderson, comparably to their Sydney Harbour Bridge version.[1][5] These bridges derived their design from the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City.[5] The bridge was completed on 25 February 1928, and officially opened on 10 October by King George V and Queen Mary, who were the first to use the roadway, travelling in their Ascot landau. The opening ceremony was attended by 20,000 schoolchildren who had been given the day off. Movietone news recorded the speech given by the King.[6]

The Tyne Bridge's towers were built of Cornish granite and were designed by local architect Robert Burns Dick[1] as warehouses with five storeys. But, the inner floors of the warehouses in the bridge's towers were not completed and, as a result, the storage areas were never used. Lifts for passengers and goods were built in the towers to provide access to the Quayside; they are no longer in use.[7]

The bridge's design uses a parabolic arch.[5]

The bridge was originally painted green with special paint made by J. Dampney Co. of Gateshead. The same colours were used to paint the bridge in 2000.[8] The bridge spans 531 feet (162 m) and the road deck is 84 feet (26 m) above the river level.

Tyne Bridge under construction in 1928

Technical Information


Total length 389 metres (1,276 ft)
Length of arch span 161.8 metres (531 ft)
Rise of arch 55 metres (180 ft)
Clearance 26 metres (85 ft)
Height 59 metres (194 ft)
Width 17.08 metres (56.0 ft)
Structural Steel 7,122 tonnes
Total weight of steelwork (arch only) 3,556 tonnes
Total number of rivets (including approaches) 777,124

History of operations

The Tyne Bridge, in green, seen from the Gateshead Millennium Bridge
The Olympic rings on the bridge
A night view of the Tyne Bridge taken from the northern embankment, looking west

Upon opening, the bridge carried the A1 road. Following the opening of the Tyne Tunnel in 1967, however, the A1 was diverted to the East and the road became the A6127. Following the construction of the Newcastle Western Bypass, the A1 moved again. The bridge was redesignated as the A167, which it remains today.[10]

In 2012, the largest Olympic rings in the UK were erected on the bridge. The rings were manufactured by commercial signage specialists Signmaster ED Ltd of Kelso. The rings were over 25 metres wide and 12 metres tall and weighed in excess of 4000 kg. This was in preparation for Newcastle hosting the Olympic football tournament, and the Olympic torch relay, in which Bear Grylls zipwired from the top of the arch, to Gateshead quayside.[11]

On 28 June 2012, a large lightning bolt struck the Tyne Bridge. It lit up the roads as the sky was very dark. The bolt, part of a super-cell thunderstorm, came with heavy rain – a month's worth of rainfall in just 2 hours – causing flash flooding on Tyneside.[12]

In 2015 Newcastle upon Tyne was a host city for the Rugby World Cup.[13] Three matches were played at St James Park, the home of Newcastle United Football Club.[14] In recognition, a large illuminated sign was erected on Tyne Bridge.[15]

Kittiwake colony

The bridge and nearby structures are used as a nesting site by a colony of around 700 pairs of black-legged kittiwakes, the furthest inland in the world. The colony featured in the BBC's Springwatch programme in 2010.[16] Several groups, including the Natural History Society of Northumbria and local Wildlife Trusts, formed a "Tyne Kittiwake Partnership" to safeguard the colony.[17] A proposal for a tower to be built as an alternative nesting site was made in 2011,[18] and in November 2015 a neighbouring hotel submitted a planning application for measures to discourage the birds.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Elwall, Robert. "Tyne Bridge". British Architectural Library. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "Dorman Long Historical Information". dormanlongtechnology.com. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Pons Aelius - 'The Aelian Bridge'". roman-britain.co.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2017. 
  4. ^ Butcher, Joanne (1 March 2013). "85 years of the Tyne Bridge". ChronicleLive. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Tyne Bridge". BBC Inside Out. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  6. ^ Butcher, Joanne (26 February 2013). "Bridge spans the generations". chroniclelive.co.uk. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Tyne Bridge". Bridges on the Tyne. 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Butcher, Joanne (2013). "85 years of the Tyne Bridge: Crossing of the great divide". Chronicle Live. Retrieved 20 October 2016. 
  9. ^ "Tyne Bridge - Technical Information". structurae.net. International Database for Civil and Structural Engineering. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  10. ^ "A1(M) Central Motorway East". Pathetic Motorways. Retrieved 24 March 2018. 
  11. ^ "Olympic rings launched on Tyne Bridge". Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  12. ^ Hough, Andrew (29 June 2012). "Weather: record 110,000 lightning bolts strike during 'superstorms'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2016. 
  13. ^ "Host Cities: Newcastle". Rugby World Cup. 2015. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  14. ^ "St James' Park". Rugby World Cup. 2015. Archived from the original on 7 December 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  15. ^ Davies, Katie (18 February 2015). "Rugby World Cup 2015: Tyne Bridge sign to be replaced with Great North Run advert". Newcastle Chronicle. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  16. ^ "Tynesiders". BBC Springwatch. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "Tyne Kittiwakes Partnership". Natural History Society of Northumbria. 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  18. ^ Wainwright, Martin (17 May 2011). "Newcastle in a flap over urban kittiwake colony". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 
  19. ^ "Installation of bird netting, angled sill plates and avishock system to tower – Tyne Bridge Tower Lombard Street Newcastle upon Tyne". Newcastle City Council. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015. 

Further reading

  • Addyman, J. and Fawcett, B. The High Level Bridge and Newcastle Central Station: 150 Years Across the Tyne. By the North Eastern Railway Association for the High Level Bridge. 1999. ISBN 1-873513-28-3.
  • Linsley, S. Spanning the Tyne: Building of the Tyne Bridge, 1925-28. Newcastle Libraries and Information Service, Newcastle City Council. 1998. ISBN 1-85795-009-7.
  • Manders, F. & Potts, R. Crossing the Tyne. Tyne Bridge Publishing. 2001. ISBN 1-85795-121-2.
  • Anderson, D. Tyne Bridge, Newcastle in "Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers", March 1930 v. 230
  • Prade, Marcel Les grands ponts du monde: Ponts remarquables d'Europe, Brissaud, Poitiers (France), ISBN 2902170653, 1990; pp. 274

External links


Next crossing upstream River Tyne Next crossing downstream
Swing Bridge  Tyne Bridge
Grid reference: NZ253637
Gateshead Millennium Bridge
(foot and cycle)