What is the Millennium Bridge at Gateshead?

millennium bridge at gateshead opening and closing

Opening and closing of the Millennium Bridge at Gateshead (photo by answerfinder CC-BY)

The Millennium Bridge at Gateshead is an impressive footbridge with a novel tilting design which crosses the River Tyne from Gateshead to Newcastle in the north-east of England. It is the first tilting bridge in the world.

The quaysides of Gateshead and Newcastle has undergone redevelopment and regeneration since the decline of traditional industries in the once busy port. As part of this regeneration, in August 1996 a design competition was launched for a new pedestrian bridge which would span the 126 metres from bank to bank but would allow ships to pass underneath. The bridge should not obscure the famous views of the existing Tyne bridges.

The winning design by Wilkinson Eyre architects and Gifford and Partners engineers was announced in February 1997. As can be seen from the photograph, the £22 million bridge has one pivotal point powered by eight electric motors. When viewed down the length of the river, the arch of the bridge, 50 meters above the river, mirrors the arch of the 20th century Tyne Bridge further up-river.

Construction of the bridge took place in nearby Wallsend and on 20 November 2001 it made its way up the river to be placed in position by Europe’s largest floating crane.

In September 2001 the bridge opened to the public and in May 2002 it was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen.

The bridge and waterfront is now the focus point for many activities in the area. Sports and cultural events are held in its shadow, and nearby is the Sage Gateshead, a concert hall and music education centre, and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

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