Like its neighbouring transporter bridge, the Tees Newport Lift Bridge is both an industrial relic and an icon for the area. The Transporter Bridge had been opened in 1911, and as with all bridges of its type it gave priority to shipping - in its "rest" state vessels can pass but vehicles cannot, and when in motion only a very limited number of vehicles can be carried at one time in one direction.
The lift bridge offered a considerable improvement for road users, giving priority to them insofar as traffic could cross while the bridge was at rest. It opened in 1934, built by Dorman Long to a design by Mott, Hay and Anderson, becoming at that time the first significant vertical lift bridge in Britain, and one of the largest in the world (at 82m, its main span was some way longer, for example, than Rotterdam's De Hef, built in 1927 and spanning 52m, which I also visited recently).
As traffic grew, even less frequent lifts of the bridge could lead to considerable disruption. The bridge lifted for the last time on 18 November 1990, remaining in its "down" position ever since.
On a dull rainy day, the bridge was impressive but also somewhat lumpen. The massive lift towers have a considerable presence but the bridge did not appear elegant. However, there are some nice photos online of the bridge at night (taken from both ground level and from tower top), which show how attractive it can appear.
I guess that perhaps the main span is still largely supported on its counterweights, with only a small dead load reaction and all the live load reaction carried down through the span-end bearings. That will certainly have been the arrangement during its working lifetime, and it may have been too expensive to change it when the bridge ceased operating.
- Google maps / Bing maps
- Engineering Timelines
- British Listed Buildings
- Bridges on the Tees
- Bridges Over the Tees: Teesside's Unusual, Unique and Historic Bridges (leaflet, ICE, undated)
- Tees (Newport) Bridge, Middlesbrough (Hamilton and Graves, Proc. ICE, 1935)
- A Celebration of Bridges between the Tweed and the Tees (Hartley and Brown, ICE, 1995)
- Civil Engineering Heritage: Northern England (Rennison, Thomas Telford Publishing, 1996)
- The Ups and Downs of the Newport Bridge (Delplanque, GazetteLive, 2008 - includes several photographs of the bridge's construction)
- An Encyclopaedia of Britain's Bridges (McFetrich, Priory Ash, 2010)