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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Overhead Cables Across the Tees

Something completely different for this posting. The remarkable engineering construct across the River Tees in Middlesbrough - known as 'The Tees Transporter Bridge' is very much a working monument to industrial England's prowess. Having long had interest in sampling this unusual (but not unique) installation of a floating platform held by cables from a tall gantry over a river crossing - I managed to accomplish this last week.

The surprise was just how short the journey was across the Tees - just a few brief minutes from departing the southern platform edge to reaching the north side of the Tees and entering what seems now to be a derelict wilderness. Only a small number of vehicles can be accommodated on the actual platform thus allowing a remarkably fast turnaround for the two man crew onboard. The crew break for an hour at lunch from Noon - otherwise the frequency is higher than Blackpool's trams.

The entire imposing structure erected in 1911 to transport workers across the river to the then thriving industrial centres on both sides of the Tees is now providing a less frenetic demand - much of which is made up of visitors both foreign and domestic coming to Middlesbrough to view and sample the operation. An enclosed viewing platform at the top of the southern gantry which is accessed by stairs fitted onto the tower (no lifts here) - allows an overhead perspective close up to the equipment which traverses between the two towers and suspended cables holding the moving platform below. The 'engine house' similarly is open to the public who are able to see the cable drums and gears in motion from a special viewing area.

Painted in a rich blue tone the Transport Bridge is very much a landmark of the north east - akin to the 'Angel of the North' next to the A1 and the Tyne Bridges at Newcastle. It certainly puts Middlesbrough on the industrial heritage map of Britain and as such is an increasingly popular destination for visitors (my wife and I were among the many tourists arriving for similar reasons). Friendly staff on hand were an added bonus for the £1.50 per vehicle fare (one way) no returns issued and no all-day tickets either !

The driver's perspective from the edge of the platform crossing over the Tees.

The travelling platform with three lines of vehicles onboard approaching the southern side of the Tees. The enormity of the structure required for this modest load is incredible but it should be remembered that when built most travellers were on foot arriving by tram on the south side for their crossing.

The incredible tower structure complete with climbing platforms fitted to the right hand tower for energetic visitors to ascend (and descend) to a viewing area at the top. The special 'Bridge Masters Cottage' just in view on the right (at ground level!). Detail Below All Images : John Woodman

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