One of the most magnificent bridges in the world can be found in the northeast of England.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of Gateshead Millennium Bridge facts.
1. It’s one of 7 bridges connecting Newcastle and Gateshead
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a fascinating bridge that spans the River Tyne in a city in the northeast of England Called Newcastle Upon Tyne. It’s the largest city in the region and the 6th largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom.
The bridge connects the Gateshead arts quarter on the south bank and the Quayside in Newcastle on the north bank and has become one of the most remarkable landmarks in the city because of its unique design.
The 7 bridges connecting both cities are from west to east:
- Redheugh Bridge
- King Edward VII Bridge
- Queen Elizabeth II Bridge
- High-Level Bridge
- Swing Bridge,
- George V Bridge (or Tyne Bridge)
- Gateshead Millennium Bridge
The Tyne Bridge just near the Gateshead Millennium Bridge was built on the location where a Roman bridge used to be located, followed by a medieval bridge.
2. It can only be crossed by pedestrians and cyclists
Since it’s not the only bridge in the area, it wasn’t necessary to build a bridge that could support vehicle traffic. Therefore, it can only be crossed by either pedestrians or cyclists.
It’s one of the many landmarks that were constructed at the turn of the century to celebrate the new Millennium. Other notable projects that were constructed during this period were the “Eden Project” in Cornwall, the “Millennium Bridge” and “Millennium Dome” in London, and the “Spinnaker Tower” in Portsmouth.
3. It has a couple of nicknames because of its tilting function
The bridge features a tilting mechanism that allows it to open and close. This way, ships of up to 25 meters (82 feet) tall can still pass on the River Tyne.
Because of the way it opens and closes and its remarkable shape, the bridge is sometimes referred to as the “Blinking Eye Bridge” or the “Winking Eye Bridge.”
4. Opening and closing the bridge is remarkably efficient
The bridge is opened with the use of 6 hydraulic rams powered by an electric motor. The 3 rams on each side allow the bridge to be opened to a 40-degree angle in just 4 and a half minutes.
To make it even better, the price to open and close the bridge is estimated to be less than £5, making it one of the most efficient tilt bridges in the world!
5. The bridge is much longer than it looks like
While the bridge doesn’t appear to be that long at first glance, it’s much longer than you would expect! One of the most interesting Gateshead Millennium Bridge facts is that has a total length of 126 meters (413 feet) with the longest span being 105 meters (344 feet).
It can also carry plenty of people as it has a total width of 8 meters (26 feet).
6. The neighboring bridge is only a little taller
One of the most amazing Gateshead Millennium Bridge facts is that at the moment of writing this post (November 2020), the Gateshead Millennium Bridge is still on the list of the top 20 tallest structures in Newcastle, even though it only stands 50 meters (165 feet) above ground level.
This also means that the nearby Tyne Bridge is just slightly taller. This iconic bridge in the city, which was completed in 1928 by the same company that built the Sydney Harbour Bridge, stands 59 meters (194 feet) above ground level
7. The bridge was extremely expensive to construct
As one of the projects of the Millennium Commission, an organization that oversaw and funded multiple projects at the turn of the millennium, the bridge was funded with money raised through the UK National Lottery.
They also got help from the European Regional Development Fund in order to raise the £22 million construction cost. This was well above the £18.2 million it cost to build the Millennium Bridge in London as well!
8. The architect firm has won several awards for its design
The bridge was constructed by a renowned Dutch company called “Volker Stevin,” now referred to as “VolkerWessels” and known for their work on the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier, part of the Delta Works in the Netherlands.
The main architect of the project was WilkinsonEyre, a London-based international architectural firm that has completed several high-profile projects, including:
- Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
- Guangzhou International Finance Centre in Guangzhou, China.
- Crown Sydney in Australia, the tallest building in the city.
For their work on the bridge, they won several awards as well, including:
- The 2002 Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize.
- The 2003 IStructE Supreme Award.
- The 2005 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.
9. It was put into position by one of the biggest cranes in the world
The bridge was completely assembled before it was put into position. It sits on a total of 19,000 tonnes of concrete with foundations going up to 30 meters (100 feet) deep into the riverbed.
This means that it was only possible to put it into place with one of the largest cranes in the world, a monster referred to as “Asian Hercules II.”
This happened on November 20, 2000, with the help of a crane with a length of 91 meters (299 feet) and a beam of 43 meters (141 feet)!
10. The bridge didn’t open to the public in the millennium year
Even though the bridge was put into position in the millennium year, it didn’t open then. It was only opened to the public on September 17, 2001, after construction had ended on June 28 of that year.
The bridge was also officially dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II on May 7, 2002. Unlike the Millennium Bridge in London which was closed for well over a year after it opened and mockingly referred to as the “Wobbly Bridge,” the Gateshead Millennium Bridge hasn’t suffered any major incidents!