Why I Love the Bridges of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Whenever I cross the Tyne Bridge, my heart sings because I know I’m home. From the south, as the train crosses the Tyne, watch all the Geordies gaze in rapture as the bridges come into view. We are blessed with four wonderful bridges within less than a mile of each other, spanning the Tyne between Newcastle and Gateshead. You can walk beneath or beside them all within a 15-minute stroll along Newcastle’s historic Quayside.
I still remember taking my tiny boys down to Wallsend in November 2000 to watch the finished Millennium Bridge being transported six miles up the river to its final position spanning from Baltic Art Galley to Newcastle Quayside. It was carried using Europe's largest floating crane - Asian Hercules II. At certain points the bridge was wider than the river and had to be turned sideways to squeeze its way through. It was finally lowered into position with just 2mm to spare.
Six hydraulic rams rotate the bridge back on large bearings to allow small ships and boats (up to 25 m, 82 ft tall) to pass underneath, taking as little as 4 1⁄2 minutes to rotate.
A wonderful way to spend an evening in Newcastle is a fine meal at one of the City’s numerous Quayside restaurants and then a stroll down the quayside to sit on the Millennium footbridge, looking up the Tyne. If you go by day, you can hang out in Baltic Square, visit Baltic Art Gallery, maybe see an outdoor concert at the Sage in the summer or get fish and chips at the Quayside Seaside; a little pretend seaside set out near the bridge in the summer, complete with sand and deck-chairs. And if it’s Sunday, you can enjoy the Quayside market, with good food, arts and crafts. Chill by the river on the free café tables and chairs provided by NE1.
Newcastle is a fantastic destination for a city break - along with time spent on the quayside enjoying the vibrant bars and restaurants, the culture and the history and, of course, the amazing bridges, you can stay at a luxurious apartment with Tyne Bridge Apartments. A real home from home and so much better value than a hotel for a group, family or couple.
Photo by Euan Morrison (from gatehead.gov.uk)
Next one up is our dear Tyne Bridge, in her lovely shade of green. The bridge was completed on 25 February 1928, and officially opened on 10 October by King George V and Queen Mary. For the nature lovers, 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.
Copyright: istock photos
Her big sister is the Sydney Harbour Bridge but if you want to meet her little sister, a mini cream-coloured version called Hagg Bank Bridge, travel up the Tyne to the lovely village of Wylam and then walk up the wagon way towards Ovingham. If you make that trip in summer, you can also visit George Stephenson’s Cottage by walking down the wagonway back towards Newcastle.
On up the river again, you’ll come to our sweet little tiddler, the Swing Bridge. She stands on the site of the Old Tyne Bridges of 1270 and 1781, and probably of the Roman Pons Aelius, built in 1876 to enable larger ships to access William Armstrong's shipbuilding works further up-river at Scotswood. These days, it is still an important road bridge but rarely needs to open for ships. On the bridge itself is the River Beat Restaurant, with its unusual and delicious menu of Thai Tapas. Or cross this bridge to access the newly opened By the River Brew Co; an independent container community nestled under the iconic Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side of the river for a cool craft beer and some tasty food.
Up the river again to meet our tall, majestic High Level Bridge. One of my favourite night time walks is across the High Level Bridge, with it’s dedicated pedestrian walkways and virtually no traffic (closed to cars). This is a double-decker bridge, completed in 1849, with trains on top 120 ft (37 m) above the water and pedestrians and cars on the lower deck. If you’ve arrived by train and are staying at one of our apartments on the Gateshead Quays, treat yourself to a walk across this bridge. And to get back into Newcastle, a 15-minute walk, with resplendent views of the Tyne and her Bridges, will get you to Eldon Square for some top-notch shopping.
Photo: Mike Quinn (from Wikipedia).
Within a short distance upriver are three further bridges, the King Edward Bridge for rail, the Metro Bridge to serve our Tyne and Wear Metro System, giving access to the airport and the beautiful coast and, finally, the Redheugh Bridge for road traffic. Although way less pretty than their sisters, we are grateful to them nonetheless for keeping our wonderful city flowing.
References: Wikipedia and Gateshead.gov.uk