Newport Transporter Bridge

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Newport Transporter Bridge
Newport Transporter Bridge 2002.jpg
Type: transporter bridge
Crossing: River Usk
Location: 51°34’14"N, 2°59’8"W
Length: 774 ft
Type: transporter bridge
Built 1906
Architect: Ferdinand Arnodin
Condition: Operational
Owned by: Newport City Council

The Newport Transporter Bridge is a transporter bridge that crosses the River Usk in Newport, Monmouthshire. The bridge is the lowest crossing on the River Usk and is a Grade I listed structure. The transporter bridge is very rare, with only eight remaining in use worldwide. The Visitor Centre is located on the west bank and features exhibits about the history of the bridge, its construction and other transporter bridges around the world. The centre is open on the weekend.


The bridge was designed by French engineer Ferdinand Arnodin. It was built in 1906 and opened by Godfrey Charles Morgan, 1st Viscount Tredegar on 12 September 1906.[1]

The design was chosen because the river banks are very low at the desired crossing point (a few miles south of the city centre) where an ordinary bridge would need a very long approach ramp to attain sufficient height to allow ships to pass under, and a ferry could not be used during low tide at the site.[2]

Principal dimensions

Interestingly for the time, a Corporation of Newport drawing dated December 1902 is calibrated in metres.

The height of the towers is 241 feet, and the height to the underside of the main girder truss above the road level is 164 ft. The span between the centres of the towers is 645 ft, and the clearance between the towers is quoted as being 592 ft; however, including the cantilevered sections, the main girder truss gives the bridge an overall length of 774 ft. The distance between the centres of the anchorage caissons is 1,545 ft. Power to propel the transporter platform or gondola is provided by two 35 hp electric motors, which in turn drive a large winch, situated in an elevated winding house at the eastern end of the bridge. This winch is sufficient to drive the gondola through its 645 ft total travel at a speed of 7 mph.

This is the oldest and largest of the three historic transporter bridges which remain in Britain, and also the largest of eight such bridges which remain worldwide).

When compared with Middlesbrough's Transporter Bridge, the Newport Transporter is 16 ft taller, but 75 ft less in overall length. It also utilizes approximately 1,400 tons of steel compared to 2,600 tons used to construct Middlesbrough's Transporter (not accounting for steel used in foundations or concrete anchors). This difference in weight is mainly due to the Newport bridge making use of cables to support and induce tension into its structure to a far greater extent than the Middlesbrough bridge.

Other information

Today, the bridge is widely regarded as the most recognisable symbol of the city of Newport. The bridge forms part of the classified highway network and is also where route 4 of the National Cycle Network crosses the River Usk and route 47 begins.

It was the focal point of the local millennium celebrations of 2000, where fireworks were fired from its length, and has been featured in several movies and television shows. It was the centre-piece of the Crow Point Festival in September 2006 to celebrate its centenary. It is used for charity events such as sponsored abseils.


The bridge was shut down in 1985 because of wear and tear. Following a £3 million refurbishment, it reopened in 1995. Service was suspended again in December 2008 with the bridge facing a £2 million repair bill.[3] £1.225 million was spent on refurbishment, financed by grants from the Welsh Government, Newport Council and Cadw. It re-opened on 30 July 2010.[4]

The bridge was closed on 16 February 2011, because of operational problems, but re-opened again on 4 June.[5]

Appearances in popular media

The transporter bridge provided the setting for some scenes in the 1959 British crime drama film Tiger Bay, which was set in Cardiff and therefore gave audiences the impression that the bridge was in Cardiff and not Newport. The bridge also featured in an early scene in the 1972 experimental film The Other Side of the Underneath by Jane Arden.


The bridge from the West bank to the North  
The gondola in transit  
Gondola approaching the pier  
Looking down onto the gondola  
Main girder, from inside  
Walkway on top of the bridge showing the pulley cable  


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Newport Transporter Bridge)