Newport Transporter Bridge
Britain has only two working transporter bridges, here and in Middlesbrough. A third, in Warrington, is derelict. With a span of 196.6 metres and towers standing 54 metres tall, Newport transporter bridge is the largest of the eight such bridges which survive around the world.
The concept was successfully piloted in Bilbao, Spain, in 1893 as a relatively cheap way of allowing people and road vehicles to cross a shipping route. Steel towers support a high-level gantry above the channel. A truck is hauled back and forth along a railway track in the gantry, carrying cars and pedestrians in a gondola suspended from cables.
As the 19th century ended, there was a growing need at Newport to transport workers to the developing industrial area east of the river Usk. The river was too wide for a lifting or swing bridge, or a tunnel, to be practicable or affordable, and there was no question of a low-level bridge preventing ships from travelling up the river. Newport councillors inspected the transporter bridge in Rouen, France, and in 1900 obtained Parliamentary approval to construct such a bridge at Newport. The bridge opened in 1906.
The bridge was closed because of structural deterioration from 1985 to 1995, when a restoration programme funded by Cadw and the European Architectural Heritage Fund was completed. The bridge, listed Grade 1, now belongs to Newport City Council. It was effectively replaced in 2005 by the Southern Distributor Road and now functions mainly as a visitor attraction, with limited opening hours.
The visitor centre at the bridge’s western entrance is managed by the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge, a charity founded in 1998 to promote and help preserve the bridge.
Postcode: NP20 2JG (west shore), NP19 0RB (east shore)