The NEWPORT TRANSPORTER BRIDGE (Pont Gludo Casnewydd), the world’s most complete surviving transporter bridge is set to become a major tourist attraction thanks to an £8.75m National Lottery grant.
For those of you who live in Newport, or drive past the bridge, it already is an attraction. On many occasions I’ve pointed out to passengers with me what a sight it is, and its historic importance to the town. If you’ve not seen it close up before, it is truly magnificent.
It crosses the River Usk in Newport, and is in fact the lowest crossing on the Usk. It’s also Grade I listed.
It is one of fewer than 10 transporter bridges that remain in use worldwide; only a few dozen were ever built. It’s one of only two operational transporter bridges in Britain, the other being the Tees Transporter Bridge. You may well have seen the Tees, it was sold (not really) in the TV series Auf Wiedersehen Pet and moved to Arizona. There’s also a really funny story about the comedian Terry Scott who drove his Jag off the end of the gondola, but that’s another bridge and for another time.
The Newport bridge was designed by French engineer Ferdinand Arnodin. It was built in 1906 and opened by Godfrey Charles Morgan, 1st Viscount Tredegar. In fact, if you pay a visit to Newport Museum they have a silver cigar cutter which was presented to Viscount Tredegar on the day of the opening, as a memento of the occasion.
The funding will allow Newport City Council to repair and preserve the structure of the bridge. Major repairs will be carried out on the east side approach viaduct, gondola, cross beams and anchorage housing. Lost architectural features will be restored, and the entire bridge will be repainted and treated to prevent corrosion.
Once the restoration work is complete, visitors will be able to follow in the footsteps of the workers who built the bridge by climbing to the top of the walkway, 55 metres above the water.
From there, they will be able to take in glorious views over South Wales. Visitors will also be able to marvel at the incredible Edwardian structure as they take a ride on the gondola.
The grant will also fund a new visitor centre, where people can learn about the history and heritage of the bridge and its environment.
Linked to the bridge via a walkway, the centre will have a shop, café, toilets and changing facilities and improved car parking. There will also be a community space with an extensive activities programme.
Cllr Jane Mudd is leader of Newport City Council, she 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 we have been able to secure this funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund which will allow us to do exactly that.”
“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.”
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.“
“We are proud of the investment we have made in Wales – more than £410 million over the past 26 years. After a year of providing emergency support to Welsh heritage organisations hit by COVID-19, we will shortly be reopening applications for National Lottery project grants and look forward to funding many more important heritage attractions across Wales.”
For more details of this, and other projects benefitting from the Heritage Fund, go HERE.