A while ago the distant silhouette of the Transporter Bridge appeared in the background of one of my photos. Paula expressed interest in it, so I thought it might be nice if it were the subject of a Thursday’s Special.
It is, in fact, quite a special structure. The concept of the transporter bridge was invented in 1873 by Charles Smith (1844-82) the manager of the iron works in, would you believe it, my home town, Hartlepool. It is a type of movable bridge that carries a segment of roadway across a river. The gondola is slung from a tall span by wires on a metal frame. The design is used to cross navigable rivers where shipping traffic needs to pass. Fewer than two dozen of this type of bridge have ever been built, according to Wikipedia.
Unfortunately Mr. Smith’s proposal was rejected by the local council, but the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge finally came into being in 1911. At 259 metres wide and 69 metres high it is the second largest such bridge in the world. The gondola can carry 200 people and 9 cars, and crosses the River Tees in 90 seconds.
The bridge never operates on windy days so I wasn’t surprised to find as I approached it that the gondola wasn’t moving. It wasn’t till I returned home that I discovered that it’s currently closed for repair! The good news for me was that I had uninterrupted views across the river. The bad news- the gondola was stranded on the far shore so I couldn’t get across. But I did discover a cycle track from which I could take even more shots.
It’s many years since I travelled that way regularly, in my commute to work. Often on chilly Winter mornings I stood on the riverbank, waiting for the gondola’s approach. When it landed and I stepped aboard there was always a frisson of excitement. Now the bus boringly follows the road and crosses the Tees via Newport Bridge.
The Transporter is not so regularly used these days, but a Visitor Centre, on the far shore, pays tribute to its exciting past (and its star performance on the TV sit com Auf Wiedersehn, Pet) but that’s a trip for another day. The links tell the full story, and if you click on any photo you’ll get my usual running commentary.
I hope that Paula enjoys her virtual visit to the Transporter Bridge with me, and that you’ll all join her on Thursday’s Special. The pretty logo below will take you there.