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Swing Bridge

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NewcastleGateshead Swing Bridge which spans the River Tyne is one of the region's must-see heritage landmarks. The Swing Bridge was built by the River Tyne Commission, under powers conferred by the Tyne Improvement Act of 1861, as part of their overall plan to improve navigation and expand trade by opening the upper reaches of the river to larger vessels. Work on the bridge began in 1873 and it was designed and constructed by Sir W.G. Armstrong and Company Limited of Elswick.

It was first used for road traffic on the 15th June 1876 and opened for river traffic on the 17th July 1876. The Swing Bridge is the fourth bridge to have been built on the same site over the Tyne at Newcastle. The first, constructed of wood and stone in c120 A.D. by the Emperor Hadrian, was known as Pons

Aelii, Aelius being the patronymic of the Emperor. This bridge stood until 1248 when it was destroyed by a fire, that also destroyed a great part of the town.

The second or Mediaeval Bridge was of stone construction and stood from 1320 until 1771 when a section was washed away in the great flood of 1771. The remaining portions had to be removed and the third bridge, constructed of stone with nine arches, was completed in 1781. This bridge was removed by the Commission to make way for the construction of the Swing Bridge.

Up to the the 31st December 1981 the Bridge opened 286,281 times enabling 448,090 vessels of over 220 million total net tonnes to pass through. In contrast, today the Bridge in 2019 opened approximately 4 times per week. Today, the Bridge is unfortunately unable to open due to technical difficulties, however it is hoping to be back open in time for its 150th anniversary in 2026.

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