Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 127,338 pages of information and 200,884 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Scotswood Suspension Bridge

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A portion of chain from the bridge on display at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle. The painted notice states that a link was tested by Dorman, Long, and found to be strong but brittle (failed at 20.5 tons per sq inch tensile stress)

Scotswood Bridge is one of the main bridges crossing the River Tyne in North East England. It links the west end of Newcastle upon Tyne on the north bank of the river with Blaydon in Gateshead on the south bank

The first bridge across the river at this location was the Old Scotswood Bridge, or "The Chain Bridge" as it was known locally. It was a suspension bridge with two stone towers, from which the road deck was suspended by chains. It was passed by parliament in 1829 and designed by John Green, with construction beginning that year. When it was opened on 16 April 1831 it was the first bridge over the River Tyne to be opened during Tyneside's industrial era.

Total length 670 ft. Two pairs of chains, each 740 ft long. Chain links 10 ft long, 4" deep, 1" think. Chains links interconnected by '8' shaped links, 5" deep at the waist. The masonry contractor was Welch and Son of Gateshead. The ironwork contractors were 'Walker and Yates of Birmingham' (see J. and E. Walker).[1]

The bridge was freed from tolls in 1907.

Good photo here of bridge showing original chains.

In 1931 the bridge needed to be strengthened and widened. The width was increased from 17 ft to 19.5 ft with two 6 ft footpaths. The suspension chains were repalced with steel wire ropes, and decking were also strengthened, allowing the weight limit to be raised to 10 tonnes. The bridge eventually proved too narrow for the traffic it needed to carry and its increasing repair costs proved too much.

After standing for 136 years, it was closed and demolished in 1967 after its replacement had been completed

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, Volume 5', edited by William Laxton. Dec 1842, pp.396-7