The 114-year-old Newport Transporter Bridge in South Wales has been awarded a US$12 million National Lottery grant.
It is one of only eight remaining transporter bridges in the world and the funding will allow Newport City Council to repair and preserve the structure and open a new visitor centre at the site.
The aerial ferry, which opened in 1906, was built to solve the problem of transporting workers from the west of Newport across the River Usk without disturbing traffic into the town’s busy port.
Andrew White, director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, Newport Transporter Bridge – one of the most important historic landmarks in Wales - has been safeguarded for future generations.
“This investment, the third-largest we have ever made in Wales, will help sustain jobs, support economic growth, drive tourism and create a sense of pride in Newport’s unique heritage.”
Once the restoration work is complete, visitors will be able to follow in the footsteps of those who built the bridge by climbing to the top of the walkway, 55m above the water.
Above: Newport Transporter Bridge under construction. Image by Newport City Council.
From there, they will be able to take in the views over South Wales and the structure; they will also be able to take a ride on the gondola.
At the site’s new visitor centre, there will be an opportunity to learn about the social history and heritage of the bridge and the tidal environment of the River Usk.
Above: CGI of the repaired bridge and it new visitor centre. Image by Newport City Council.
Councillor Jane Mudd, leader of Newport City Council, said: “The transporter bridge is an icon of Newport, and a significant part of the story of Wales’ industrial past, one that we need to preserve for future generations so that we can tell the stories of our shared history. I’m therefore delighted that we have been able to secure this funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund which will allow us to do exactly that.
“The restoration of the bridge is also important from a regeneration perspective. The development of a new visitor centre has the potential to create both job and volunteering opportunities, and enhance the city’s reputation as a visitor destination, both of which will bring wider economic benefits to Newport.”
The restoration work includes:
- repairing and repainting the east side approach viaduct;
- repairing the gondola and rotting timbers and replacing worn anchor pins and cables on the main booms;
- restoring lost architectural features and repairing the bridge’s cross beams and anchorage housing, and replenishing all worn wood and steel parts; and
- treating the entire bridge to prevent corrosion, repainting and fitting new lighting.
Newport Transporter Bridge has been attracting 20,000 visitors a year on average over the last five years. It is expected that the restoration and building work will take three and a half years and that once it’s completed, 47,000 people will visit the site annually within the first three years.
Above: Photo of the Newport Transporter Bridge by Newport City Council
There is also another transporter bridge in the UK, in the north east of England. It has been cordoned off for safety reasons since August 2019 and the council is considering the next steps (link opens in new tab).