The Swing Bridge stands on the site of the Old Tyne Bridges of 1270 and 1781, and probably of the Roman Pons Aelius.
The previous bridge on the site was demolished in 1868 to enable larger ships to move upstream to William Armstrong's works. The hydraulic Swing Bridge was designed and paid for by Armstrong, with work beginning in 1873. It was first used for road traffic on 15 June 1876 and opened for river traffic on 17 July 1876. At the time of construction it was the largest swing bridge ever built. The construction cost was £240,000.
The hydraulic power still used to move the bridge is today derived from electrically driven pumps. These feed a hydraulic accumulator sunk into a 60 ft (18 m) shaft below the bridge; the water is then released under pressure which runs the machinery to turn the bridge. The mechanism used for this is still the same machinery originally installed by Armstrong.
It has an 281 ft (85.6 m) cantilevered span with a central axis of rotation able to move through 360° to allow vessels to pass on either side of it.
The busiest year of operation was 1924 when the bridge was rotated 6,000 times unlike current use where it is only required to turn occasionally to allow yachts and pleasure craft to pass by and on the first Wednesday of each month as a maintenance exercise.
The Bridge featured in the final episode and climax of the educational series Geordie Racer from Look and Read when the villains became stranded on the bridge after a robbery.
The bridge was renovated in 2018 at a cost of £200,000. The restoration involved 25,000 hours of work and 10,000 screws were used in repairs.
Description courtesy of Wikipedia.
13th July 2022
23rd March 2022
Swing Bridge Pillars.
On both the Newcastle side and Gateshead side of the bridge, there are four large stone pillars adjacent to its footpaths. They are all the same apart from one on the Gateshead side, which has been cut in half from top to bottom as it used to butt up to a building which has since been demolished.
North East Pillars.
North West Pillars.
South East Pillars.
South West Pillars.
12th August 2021
21st September 2020
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22nd June 2019
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12th September 2008
The engine room.
4th June 2008
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10th October 2007
A short video showing the bridge in action.
- Port Of Tyne - The Swing Bridge
- Bridges On The Tyne - The Swing Bridge
- Historic England - The Swing Bridge
- William Armstrong - The Swing Bridge
- Co-Curate - The Swing Bridge
- Sitelines - Swing Bridge
- Sitelines - Swing Bridge, Roman bridge foundation
- Sitelines - Tyne Bridge (medieval)
- Chronicle Live - Ever wondered why the Swing Bridge has two rickety old jetties attached?
- Chronicle Live - The inside story of how the Swing Bridge was built as it turns 150 this year
- Chronicle Live - How often the Swing Bridge actually swings and when you might see it
My other photos of bridges on the Tyne:
What a fantastic page of facts, pics and a vid clip of my favourite river Tyne bridge! Sadly to say I've never seen it swing in person, at least not yet.
Excellent site all round :) Do you have any plans to do a history or fact list on the other bridges?
Check out this high resolution shot of The Swing Bridge,
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