Newport Transporter Bridge comes to the end of extensive renovation project
From 1st-3rd October 2010, Newport, Wales will host the infamous golfing event the Ryder Cup. This news has prompted a £2bn refurbishment project in an effort to spruce up the Welsh city, creating a space that locals can be proud of when the world comes to call.
Part of this wide-scale renovation includes the £1.225m restoration of the Grade I listed Newport Transporter Bridge. Funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, Newport City Council and Cadw, the bridge is an intimidating structure that carries pedestrians and vehicles across the River Usk on an electrically powered dangling gondola between two imposing towers, each 242ft high. One of two in the UK and only seven across the world, the transporter bridge was originally put in place to transfer workers from one side of the river to the other after a spate of rapid industrial development in the late 19th century. During this time, the East side of the river underwent extensive development, which included the construction of the Lysaghts steelworks. The problem soon arose that a very high tidal range and the constant access for high-masted ships caused issues for workers trying to reach the steelworks. Borough Engineer Mr. R. H. Haynes suggested Frenchman Ferdinand Arnodin’s ‘Aerial Ferry’ design as a solution – two high towers supporting a ‘railway track’ from which a platform carrying passengers and vehicles is suspended.
Over the last six months, Newport Transporter Bridge has been carefully restored by teams of workmen and engineers who had the unenviable task of abseiling down the structure to complete work to the highest degree. This is not the first time that the bridge has seen some unusual activity however. In 1984, a cluster of picketing miners hijacked the structure during a strike, whilst during the Second World War the bridge was heavily patrolled by armed soldiers despite the fact that the Germans only used the bridge as a landmark so they knew when to turn back home.
This coming Friday 30th July, the Newport Transporter Bridge will officially reopen to the public after its extensive renovation project.