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New book to mark the 90th anniversary of landmark Newport Bridge

Heritage and history

Thursday, 29 February 2024
An old picture of the Newport Bridge

A new book celebrating the history of the iconic Tees Newport Bridge - officially opened 90 years ago this week - will be released ahead of Local History Month this May.

The richly-illustrated bumper book, entitled The Tees Newport Bridge: The Untold Story of a Steel River Landmark, is authored by Middlesbrough-born University of Sheffield academic Dr Tosh Warwick and explores the history of the remarkable engineering wonder often overshadowed by the nearby Tees Transporter Bridge.

Opened on Wednesday, February 28, 1934 by the Duke of York, the Tees Newport Bridge was dubbed the ‘Tees Wonder Bridge’ as the largest vertical-lift bridge of its type in the world and the first of its type in the country.

The Teesside landmark was constructed by Middlesbrough-based famed bridge builders Dorman Long, who also built global icons such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge.

Built as the new main motor vehicle crossing of the River Tees - famously dubbed the ‘Steel River’ by Chris Rea - construction work on the Bridge played a major role in relieving unemployment in the 1930s, whilst the new link between the counties of Durham and Yorkshire supported the development of new and expanding industries along the Tees including ICI.

In the ensuing 90 years, Newport Bridge – also referred to as the Tees Bridge - has played a major role in the economic, social and transportation history and heritage of Teesside.

A decade in the making, the idea for the book on the lesser-celebrated bridge linking Middlesbrough with the north bank of the Tees dates back to the landmark’s 80th anniversary in 2014, when Tosh collaborated with Teesside Archives and uncovered and digitised previously unseen photographs of Newport Bridge, which last lifted in 1990.

The Tees Newport Bridge: The Untold Story of a Steel River Landmark features dozens of previously unpublished construction and opening ceremony photographs and draws upon rarely seen archival material from private collections, Middlesbrough Libraries, Teesside Archives and local newspaper archives to provide a fascinating insight into the history of the Grade II listed structure.

The debates on the impact of deindustrialisation, tales of triumphs and tragedies, and dozens of memories all feature alongside facts, figures and historic plans.

The Newport Bridge inspired work of a number of leading artists and photographers including Abby+Owen, Robin Dale, Philip Meadows, Alan Morley, Mackenzie Thorpe, Richard Wagner and Graham Frank Wright also features in the book.

Author Dr Tosh Warwick said: “For over a decade I have chipped away at writing this book about the ‘other’ historic bridge spanning the ‘Steel River’ between Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees.

“By delving into the fascinating records of public and private collections, hearing memories of the local community and discovering the rich range of artwork and photography inspired by the structure, it was apparent that Newport Bridge deserved more attention as a key historic link across the Tees and a record-breaking engineering wonder.

“The landmark also holds a special place in the hearts of many Teessiders and I hope the book will appeal to those proud of the region’s bridge building history and industrial heritage.”

To mark the 90th anniversary of the Newport Bridge, the first 90 books ordered from Heritage Unlocked will be signed and numbered by the author accompanied by a signed A4 art print by artist Graham Frank Wright at a special price of £19.34 – priced to mark the 1934 opening of the landmark. You can buy it by clicking here.

Graham Frank Wright’s Newport Bridge A4 art print is also available to purchase separately for £14.99.

The Tees Newport Bridge: The Untold Story of a Steel River Landmark is the first of a number of history titles due to be published by Heritage Unlocked this year, including the latest book by celebrated local historian Norman Moorsom.