Heritage: Newport Transporter Bridge

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Heritage Swinging back into action One of only eight transporter bridges in the world, Newport’s historic steel landmark recently reopened to the public following a major refurbishment. Martin Cooper reports. Flandmark to British engineering great views of the Newport area.vehicles can be carried each trip, and for themore adventurous there is also a high levelwalkway at the top of the towers offeringor more than one hundred yearsNewport’s Transporter Bridge hasstood over the River Usk as a steel and construction expertise. Now, following The bridge’s refurbishment is one of the a major £1.2M refurbishment programme, legacies of The Ryder Cup, which Newport the bridge has officially reopened to the is hosting this month, with funding from public, having been closed for more than the Welsh Assembly Government, Newport two years. City Council and Cadw. The project took Originally opened in 1906, the six months, during which time 12 abseiling Grade I listed structure carries passengers painters were dangling from the towers on and vehicles across the Usk on a gondola a typical day to repaint approximately four suspended from a trolley. Spanning miles of steel. between two 74m-high towers, the trolley is “The steel structure is in excellent propelled by a continuous cable that winds condition for its age,” comments Brian onto a drum driven by an electric motor. Kemp, Head of Engineering & Construction The gondola travels 197m between the for Newport City Council. “During the two riverbank towers, which makes it the refurbishment works we only had to A suspended gondola carries vehicles and longest spanning transporter bridge in replace a few cross bracing beams, as well passengers across the River Usk the world. Eighty passengers and up to six as installing a new high level track for the Designed Tdesigned transporter bridges in France, Spain and sections have had to be ordered in metricAll new steel sections for the bridge arecabling.”bespoke pieces, specifically tailored for theproject. However, new and replacementhe original concept for the iconic transporterbridge is generally credited to French engineer/designer Ferdinand Arnodin. During the 1890s heMade inand not in the original imperial sizes. “TheNorth Africa. When Newport’s City Councillors decided toin France Britain build a new crossing of the River Usk, to service the newly switch to metric is probably the only change opened Orb Steelworks, Mr Arnodin was duly summoned. we’ve made to the original design,” says A transporter bridge was the only sensible option for Mr Kemp. the Usk crossing. A ferry was ruled out as low tide would So well preserved is the bridge and its have hindered services, while conventional bridges would transporter and employed contractor Alfred Thorne of equipment that the motor for the gondola’s not have allowed large ships to pass under them on their Westminster to erect it. Approximately 850t of structural trolley has never needed to be changed or way to the City Docks. steelwork, mostly sourced from Frodingham near overhauled. According to Mr Kemp, the Mr Arnodin, working in conjunction with Borough Scunthorpe (above), was needed for the project, with the original designers purchased two motors, Engineer Mr R Haynes, designed the world’s longest bridge finally costing the princely sum of £80,000. with the spare one still in its box to this day. 30 October 10NSC


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