The Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge was opened in 1911 by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, the third son of Queen
The Transporter Bridge towers over
Middlesbrough and stands 225 feet high. It is a working bridge ferrying people and vehicles 580 feet across the river. Its Grade II listed status means that it cannot be demolished, which is just as well as it stands on the banks of the River Tees adjacent to the waste land that makes up most of the ongoing Middlehaven development.
The first proposal for a transporter bridge was the design of Charles Smith, a
Hartlepool man. His design had a span of 650 feet, and a height under the span of 150 feet; the gondola suspended from the structure had to dodge ships passing up and down the Tees. The estimated cost £31,136.
Eighteen transporter bridges were built in the period 1893 – 1916, a number of the earlier ones in
. Today only eight remain. In 1906 the Frenchman Ferdinand Arnodin resurrected Smith’s idea. Arnodin’s design was 160 feet high under the span. 571 feet between the piers and foundations down to 90 feet on the Port Clarence and 70 feet on the France Middlesbrough side of the river. The total length of the bridge is 851 feet, the height 225.
Royal assent for the bridge was obtained in 1907. Sir William Arrol and Company was awarded the construction contract at an estimated cost of £68,026. Arrol brought in Scottish steel from Lanarkshire so despite what so many people believe the bridge was not built from local steel companies. The foundation stone was laid on 3 August 1910.
When opened by Prince Arthur in 1911 the bridge had cost £84,000.
In its first year the bridge carried 2 million passengers, in 2010 the total was 120, 000.
In 1974 the actor Terry Scott had a moment of fame when he drove his car over the edge onto the support frame, thinking it was a normal bridge.
A small visitor centre on the
Middlesbrough side was opened by Fred Dibnah in 2000. There are plans to fit lifts to the walkway at the top of the bridge. If you are feeling brave the Transporter is licensed for bungee jumps.
The bridge has been described by Sir Nickolaus Pevsner as, “A European Monument, in its daring and finesse – A Thrill to see from anywhere.”