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Newport Lift Bridge
River Tees, Middlesbrough, UK
Newport Lift Bridge
associated engineer
Mott Hay & Anderson
date  14th July 1932 - 28th February 1934
era  Modern  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  NZ477198
ICE reference number  HEW 470
photo  Jane Joyce
Newport Lift Bridge carries the A1032 road across the River Tees at Newport in Middlesbrough, upstream from the Transporter Bridge. Built to replace a ferry, it was the first large vertical lift bridge in the UK and then the heaviest of its kind in the world. It is still in daily use though the central section no longer lifts.
Constructed in steel and concrete, the bridge sits on cast iron cylinders of 3m and 5.5m diameter filled with concrete sunk 26.2m into the river bed. Including approaches, Newport Lift Bridge is 1.5km long, with a single carriageway 11.6m wide and two footways of 2.7m. Its four 55.5m high steel towers are H-section, 965mm by 760mm.
The central lifting section is 82.3m long and 20.1m wide. It was operated by two 242kW motors, and took a minute and a half to raise or lower. The mechanism consisted of 52.7m long wire ropes that passed over 4.6m diameter steel sheaves at the top corners of the towers, attached to counterweights. In the 'up' position, the bridge provided 36.6m clearance above high water. In the ‘down’ position, 6.4m. The navigable width is 76.2m.
The mechanism was controlled from an oak-panelled winding house constructed at mid-span. If the motors failed, a standby 336kW petrol engine was used instead, and if necessary the bridge could be raised or lowered manually by winching. Bridge master Mr R. Batty estimated in 1963 that this task "would take 12 men eight hours".
The Parliamentary Bill for the bridge's construction received royal assent in June 1930. The Duke of York laid the foundation stones on 14th July 1932 and opened the bridge 19 months later on 28th February 1934. It cost £426,840 to build — some £10,000 less than the tender price — and contains 8,130 tonnes of steel and 28,450 tonnes of concrete.
As part of the bridge contract, the Welded Bridge (NZ479198) was also constructed. It takes traffic across the railway line that runs beside the east bank of the river and is thought to be the earliest all-welded bridge in Britain.
Newport Lift Bridge was raised to twice a day and was in continuous operation until 1970, after which it was manned five days per week. In September 1989, the Tees Newport Bridge Act repealed the legal requirement for lifting the central span. The final bridge lift was on 18th November 1990, after which it was secured in its lowered position as shipping no long needed to pass regularly upstream and maintenance and operating costs were high.
Resident engineer: John Alexander King Hamilton
Construction: Dorman Long & Co Ltd
Sheaves: Vickers Armstrong, Barrow
Roller bearings: Duncan Stewart & Co, Glasgow
Wire ropes: British Ropes Ltd, and Whitecross Co (Warrington)
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Tees (Newport) Bridge, Middlesbrough" by John Alexander King Hamilton and John Tudor Graves, in Minutes of ICE Proceedings, Vol.240, pp.567-598, January 1935
www.bridgesonthetyne.co.uk
www.ice.org.uk
reference sources   CEH North
Location

Newport Lift Bridge