Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Redheugh Bridge

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1. 1876 photo
2. 1898 photo
3. 1898 photo
4. 1901.
5. 1901. Note the tubular top member/gas pipe of the old bridge, and the remains of the old towers rising above the new girders. The old ironwork would shortly be removed and the new spans moved over to the right
6. 1901.

Road bridge over the Tyne.

c.1870 First Redheugh Bridge opened. This was a most unusual bridge, designed by Thomas Bouch to carry pedestrians and horse-drawn traffic.

The iron lattice girders had a continuous length of 743 ft. The top (compression) member of the girders was tubular, the 27-inch diameter tubes doubling as gas mains, as can be seen in one of the old photoraphs (see Photos 2 & 5). Photo 2 shows how the pipe bends down below the roadway level. The bottom members were U-shaped, and carried 12" water mains. Note: 'The Engineer' stated that the bottom members were the water mains, but this is unlikely.

There were three piers standing in the river, with centres 252 ft apart. Each pier had four legs, assembled from 3 ft diameter cast iron columns, to support the deck. Horizontal struts and slender X-bracing was ptovided between the legs. Each pier's four legs stood on four 12 ft diameter caissons. These were sunk under compressed air to a depth of 60 ft below high water level. The legs supported the girders, and rising above the piers were pairs of lattice towers. Attached to the top of these lattice towers were diagonal tie bars which were connected to the deck beams at one-third span. [1]. The 1898 photo (2) shows the distant pier in its original form, while the middle pier is being extensively altered by the addition of inclined props. The propping work has just started on the nearest pier.

Note: The 1876 and 1898 photos are from the invaluable Co-Curate website and are identified as free of copyright and in the public domain.[2]

By 1897, when the bridge was only 26 years old, it was considered 'not only insufficiently large for the increased traffic, but not entirely safe.' Construction of a replacement steel bridge started in 1897. Engineers Sandemann and Moncrieff. Constructors Arrol and Co[3]. It was a difficult project, and progress was slow, the bridge opening in August 1901. The 1897 article in 'The Engineer' describes the constraints faced by the contractors, wherein the new bridge had to be built around the existing bridge. New cylinder foundations had to be sunk deeper into the river, either side of the existing foundations, without disturbing them. The original girders had to remain in place while the new ones were constructed, and this required the new spans to be built offset from the bridge centre line, and then finally moved over bodily to centralise them. In addition there were tight restrictions on the duration and frequency of any disconnection of gas and water supply. The entire four spans, with a total weight of 1600 tons, were moved over simultaneously on greased rails, using eight hydraulic jacks with 9" diameter rams to obtain 4 ft 6" movement.[4]

Photo 4 shows Bouch's original cast iron columns, retained during construction, augmented by additional supports. Interestingly, remnants of the original Thomas Bouch's can be seen, the gas pipes/top members awaiting removal. The original columns were finally removed.

Subsequent deterioration, and limited capacity for traffic weight and volume, necessitated the construction of a new concrete bridge alongside the c.1900 steel bridge, followed by the demolition of the steel bridge. The new bridge was designed by Mott, Hay and Anderson, with architects Holford Associates. The main contractor was Edmund Nuttall Ltd. Work started on 24 April 1980, and the bridge was officially opened to traffic on 21 February 1983, a month ahead of schedule.[5]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'Thomas Bouch - The Builder of the Tay Bridge' by John Rapley, Tempus Publishing, 2007
  2. [1] Co-Curate website: Redheugh Bridge
  3. [2] The Engineer, 9 July 1897, pp.23 & 34
  4. [3] The Engineer, 6 June 1901
  5. 'Crossing the Tyne' by Frank Manders and Richard Potts, Tyne Bridge Publishing, 2001