High Level Bridge Over River Tyne - Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dtrebilc
N 54° 58.058 W 001° 36.551
30U E 589036 N 6092075
Quick Description: This high level bridge over the River Tyne is one of a number that connect Newcastle and Gateshead. This one is a combined rail and road bridge.
Location: North East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 3/24/2015 2:21:03 PM
Waymark Code: WMNJND
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 1

Long Description:
"Designed by Robert Stephenson and built between 1847 and 1849, it was the first major example of a wrought iron tied arch or bow-string girder bridge. It is a simple engineering solution to a difficult problem at the time it was built; the spanning of 1,337 feet (408 m) of river valley, including 512 feet (156 m) across water. The High Level Bridge has six river spans of 125 feet (38 m) length, sitting on masonry piers 46 by 16 feet (14.0 by 4.9 m) up to 131 feet (40 m) height. There are also four land spans on each side, of 36 feet 3 inches (11.05 m). The two-way single carriageway road (since reduced to a single one-way carriageway) and pedestrian walkways occupy the lower deck of the spans, 85 feet (26 m) above the high-water mark, and the railway is on the upper deck 112 feet (34 m) above the high-water mark. The total weight of the structure is 5,000 long tons (5,100 t).

According to a contemporary encyclopedia:[4]

Each river span is crossed by four main cast iron arched ribs, with horizontal tie bars. The roadway is situated between a pair of ribs some 20 feet (6.1 m) apart; and walkways are sited on either side of the roadway in a 6-foot (1.8 m) gap between the central and outside ribs. The upper, railway, platform, rests on the arches of the ribs, whilst the lower roadway is suspended from the ribs on wrought iron rods. Each arched rib was cast in five sections. Besides the tie-bars, the ribs are braced by horizontal and vertical bracing frames, while diagonal bracings are inserted in the spandrels, or spaces between the arches and the girders which carry the railway. On the tops of the spandrel pillars, girders extend length-wise, from which other stretch at right-angles across the arched ribs. The whole thus has a perfectly rigid character and is found to bear the heaviest weights without deflection.

The bridge was built for the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway, and together with Stephenson's Royal Border Bridge at Berwick upon Tweed, completed the line of a London-Edinburgh railway nowadays known as the East Coast Main Line. The bridge was opened to rail traffic, without ceremony, on 15 August 1849. It was officially opened on 27 September 1849 by Queen Victoria; and brought into ordinary use on 4 February 1850.[5]

The total cost of the bridge was £491,153, broken down as follows: the bridge proper cost £243,096, including £112,000 for the metal work, which was produced by Messers Hawks, Crawshay & Co (and subcontractors). The approaches to the bridge cost £113,057, and land and compensation - including to the 650 Newcastle and 130 Gateshead families who were relocated to enable its construction - £135,000.[5] There were also competing plans - not taken forward - for a low level bridge; in 1836 Richard Grainger with engineer Thomas Sopwith proposed a crossing 20 feet (6.1 m) above high-water mark, running the Newcastle & Carlisle, Great North of England and Brandling Junction railways into a low level terminus. Under their plans, the Scotland railway would follow contour lines to the east and north, whilst the Carlisle line would be taken up inclined planes.[6]

Stephenson's High Level Bridge was designed after, but completed before his equally innovative Britannia Bridge (constructed 1846-50) over the Menai Strait; it can be seen as a second and more elegant version of the Britannia Bridge, and was to influence Isambard Kingdom Brunel in his design of the Royal Albert Bridge (1855; constructed 1859) across the River Tamar at Saltash.[2]

The High Level Bridge began to vibrate like a piece of thin wire,[7] but provided an excellent vantage point for the Great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead in 1854.

In 1906, construction of the King Edward VII Bridge, some 500 yards to the west of the High Level Bridge, was completed. This second bridge addressed the central operational weakness of the single bridge, which was that trains entering the station from the south had to be reversed back across the bridge when returning in that direction. It also meant that locomotives had to switch ends before a train could head north towards Edinburgh.

Since the newer bridge opened, the High Level no longer forms part of the East Coast Main Line. Instead, it provides a route for trains going towards Sunderland, Middlesbrough and, formerly, the Leamside Line. It is also occasionally used for London trains wanting to turn around as the two bridges are linked on the Gateshead side to form a loop. For this reason, the western track across the bridge is electrified." link

The bridge is accessible for viewing either at the high level pedestrian path, or at the ground level on the Quayside next to the river.
Length of bridge: 407.8 metres

Height of bridge: 40 metres

What type of traffic does this bridge support?: Motor vehicles, pedestrians and railroad

What kind of gap does this bridge cross?:
The River Tyne

Date constructed: 1849

Is the bridge still in service for its original purpose?: Yes, but motor vehicles now restricted to one way for buses and taxis only

Name of road or trail the bridge services: St. Nicholas's Street

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Tyne and Wear

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