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UK Newport Transporter Bridge, Newport - October 2015

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History

The Newport Transporter Bridge is one of six remaining fully-functioning transporter bridges left in the world; although eight still exist altogether. Originally, twenty were constructed, but many have since been closed and scrapped owing to declining ship-building industries across the world. A transporter bridge is commonly referred to as a rigid purpose built structure, positioned at a high level over the designated crossing point, from which a suspended gondola is attached. Transporter bridges were constructed between 1893 and 1916 and served to allow large ships to pass underneath.

Now a Grade I listed structure, the Newport Transporter Bridge, located in South Wales, was originally constructed and completed in 1906. It cost £98,000 to complete. Of the three transporter bridges in the UK, this is the oldest and largest of them, and the largest of all throughout the world. It was designed by Ferdinand Arnodin, a French engineer, and opened by Godfrey Morgan, 1st Viscount Tredegar, on 12th September 1906. The transporter design was selected because Newport was a busy port area, and because the river banks at the desired crossing point were particularly low; an ordinary bridge would have required a very long approach ramp, to gain sufficient height to allow ships to pass underneath. Equally, a ferry could not be used in place of a bridge since the river is often drained of most of its water during low tide. Although a ferry did operate occasionally, it was not a practical transportation method, and many fatalities were also attributed to this method of crossing the river.

The bridge was shut down in 1985, owing to general ‘wear and tear’; however, after receiving £3 million for refurbishment and renovation, it reopened in 1995. Service was halted once again in December 2008 on account of a £2 million repair bill, but after £1.225 million was invested into it, it was able to reopen on 30th July 2010. The last recorded closure of the bridge was on 16th February 2011 until 4th June, because of operational problems. As it stands though, the bridge appears to be closed once again as painting work is carried out across the entire structure.

Each of the towers are measured as being 73.6 metres (241.5 ft) tall, and the height to the underside of the main girder truss above the road is 49.97 metres (163.9 ft). The span between the two towers is 196.56 metres (644.9 ft), and the clearance between the towers is estimated as being 180.44 metres (592 ft). The gondola is powered by twin 35 horse-power electric motors; the motors turn a large winch situated inside the elevated winding house on the eastern side of the bridge. Compared to the Tees Transporter Bridge, the only other fully-functioning transporter in the UK, the Newport Bridge is 5 metres (16 ft) taller, but 23 metres (75 ft) less in overall length. Overall it also uses approximately 1,400 tonnes of steel as opposed to the 2,600 tonnes used to construct the Tess Transporter. The dramatic difference in weight is due to the use of cables on the Newport bridge, which support and induce tension into its structure to a much greater extent that its Teesside counterpart.

Our Version of Events

With the general rule of our trip being that we weren’t allowed to be in the same place too long, we decided to leave Birmingham late on the same day we’d arrived. We had shit to do and places to be, so we hit the road and headed straight for South Wales. By the time we got there, we were already rapidly burning the cover of darkness, so we wasted no time before attempting to hit the bridge. After first assessing our access options however, things looked to be a bit trickier than we’d first considered; large security doors, for instance, have been fitted, alongside anti-climb paint, and thick mud surrounded the base of the concrete pillars. We nearly lost one of the gang down there after he’d been stumbling around in the darkness trying to find a way onto the bridge. For some reason, a sudden increase in police activity also occurred after we’d spend no less than five minutes within the vicinity of the bridge. I had to admit, at first things weren’t looking good.

Nevertheless, after a quick ‘team meeting’, we fetched together a plan. And what a good idea it all turned out to be! Half an hour later, with the plan well underway, we found ourselves on the side of the bridge somewhere, nicely tucked away in the shadows of the Transporter’s steel structure. After that, it was plain sailing to top. The views up there were pretty incredible, and it was well worth the final climb up a very bendy ladder. On the whole, we probably spent longer above Newport than we did on the actual ground; until it was finally time to head back down to grab some rest before the next day’s activities ensued. Luckily for us, we parked right near the local breakfast van, so we arose the next day to the smell of sizzling bacon and sausage.

With it being dark when we’d decided to hit the bridge it had been difficult to grab a decent snap of the entire structure, so we cheekily decided to return the next day to grab a few shots of the bridge in the crisp morning daylight. That was when we noticed the very cheap day pass fee which gives any customer unlimited crossing access via the gondola throughout the day, access to the high level walkway and a visit into the motor house platform: all that for a mere £2.75 per adult or £1.75 per child – absolute bargain!

Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Box, The Hurricane and Husky.

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Edited by WildBoyz

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One of only a very small number of operational transporter bridges in the world this is, nice one for getting up there at night. Yes you can in fact pay to climb the bridge, but where's the fun in that! :thumb

Edited by Maniac

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One of only a very small number of operational transporter bridges in the world this is, nice one for getting up there at night. Yes you can in fact pay to climb the bridge, but where's the fun in that! :thumb

Thanks man. You're right, not very many of these left in the world.

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