Thursday’s Special : the Transporter Bridge

Just a gentle warning not to cross when the bridge isn't there!

Just a gentle warning not to cross when the bridge isn’t there!

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.



  1. Jo, will be curious to see your set of images when you return and traverse it at the top. 🙂 I’m not sure my fear of heights would allow me to do so there or on Bilbao’s similar transporter bridge.

    1. It’s a landmark I’ve loved all my life, Jo. Viveka’s put a link to a YouTube video in her comments. Or the Wikipedia link gives you more information. Many thanks for your visit 🙂

  2. What a lovely visit this was Jo. It’s a beautiful bridge and you’ve made it just more interesting with your lovely photo’s. Thanks for sharing hon. 😀 *hugs*

    1. I’m amazed! I almost never think of YouTube. I needn’t have taken all those photographs, just play the video 🙂 Thanks, lovely lady. I have both feet firmly on the ground this morning.
      (But talking of feet, I think a hospital visit may be needed this morning- I suspect my son James has a bone chipped or broken in his foot 😦 )

      1. Jo, I think you maybe could have posted the little video of the bridge with your stunning photo. Because it have given a bigger impact to the bridge and it also give picture of the greatness of this bridge, but your photos can measure up to the video or replace you view on the bridge. It can be a great combination sometimes .. to use a video and personal photos.
        Wow, a bone chipped … I hope it’s not that bad, Jo … sounds painful and months of awkwardness. Good Luck, James.

  3. Wow, this just fantastic – love it … excellent job !!! Beautiful, bold and urban. Transport bridge what does that mean …. It’s not connected to anything in either ends ???? Does it tip??? A majestic construction and goes back to 1911. My grandma was only 21 then. Love the blues in the shots.

    1. The gondola runs across dangling from wires. The main structure is pretty solid. When it’s operational again I’ll go back for a ride and take some photos in transit (maybe even climb up and over the top- I might need a blindfold 🙂 )
      Hug and night, night!

  4. What an interesting concept. Thanks for showing it to us Jo. Incidentally I loved the TV show Auf Wiedersehn, Pet, but I had to give a running translation to Jack of the dialogue as you needed to be a “Pomme” to understand the brummy accents

  5. un maestoso e insieme sottile ricamo in ferro eretto dal genio umano scomoda l’inchino delle nuvole ( ha ha ha immagino cosa uscirà tradotto da Google di questa mia frase, non preoccuparti solo un commento poetico!)
    sei una vera maga, amica Jo, una volta o l’altra spero fotograferai la tua bacchetta magica

    a majestic and subtle embroidery iron set erected by human genius inconvenient bowing delle nuvole (ha ha ha I guess what will be translated by Google of my sentence, don’t worry just a poetic comment!)
    are you a real witch, friend Jo, at one time or another I hope your magic wand fotograferai

    1. Definitely a witch, Ventis (and in temper too! ) It’s wonderful to be able to find the magic in life through friends. Have a lovely weekend and thank you for your lovely (and poetic) comments 🙂

    1. It’s at times like this Ruth I forget what a big world it is and how very many bridges are out there. This one’s an old friend to me and I was happy to introduce her. Many thanks for your kind words. 🙂

    1. Funny how we take for granted the things on our doorstep, Lynne. This beauty is only half hour up the road from me (by car 🙂 ) Many thanks for your continued support and appreciation. 🙂

  6. I love bridges, Johanna, to the extent that I look out for races with bridges on the routes to enter. Your photos really bring out the amazing architecture. 🙂

    1. This is a great bridge, Opalla. Can’t think why I haven’t featured it before except it’s a little off the beaten track for me these days. I’m glad Paula asked me about it. Thank you 🙂

    1. Funny how we miss stuff that’s on our doorstep, Cath. It becomes invisible to us, but I’ve always loved this bridge (Middlesbrough not so much, though Dad lives there) 🙂

      1. It’s hard to think the Transporter Bridge is invisible(!) but I know what you mean. I bet if I asked my parents next time I see them, they’ll say ‘oh yes, didn’t you know about the bridge?’! Haha.

    1. Oh, I don’t think you would, Jill, as it’s quite strange when you’re out over the water in a little metal gondola with open sides. I’ll take some shots when it opens again as I really enjoyed my trip out. 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Yes! If you click on the photos I mention that in my commentary, but you need a good head for heights :). It is currently closed for 40 days for repairs. Many thanks for your comments.

  7. Jo, this is so cool! I’ve never heard of a transporter bridge, and you’ve done this one justice with your photos. The “moody” sky really adds beauty to the bridge. Too bad you didn’t get to take the bridge across or climb up those stairs. But your walk along the cycle trail made for some interesting shots. Thanks for teaching me something new. 🙂

  8. Congratulations for the post that has made my lunch break so much more enjoyable; and now I am both smarter and more inspired for seeing it. The story about the structure, your way of leading us through your pictures, the takes themselves – everything is beyond my expectations :)Thank you, Jo for this generous gift.

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