Friday, 7 March 2008
I am currently being kept out of trouble by photographing and writing a book on engineering-reliant structures in Britain, for a firm of civil (very civil, as it happens) engineers to celebrate a milestone anniversary. Here's 'one I made earlier' of the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge. Made famous by appearances in Billy Elliot and Auf Weidersen Pet, it is so defining of Middlesbrough that it's also on the council badge. In 1911 a bridge was required here that gave access to Port Clarence and yet still gave headroom for tall-masted ships. The solution was to suspend a gondola from a 160 feet high gantry by what are known as trolley wires, in order that this strange craft could ply (as it still does) across the River Tees with foot passengers and up to nine cars. I was fortunate enough to be taken up to the top, a hair-raising ascent that was like going up into the clouds through a gargantuan Meccano model. I just hoped that the nuts and bolts were better secured than those of my unfortunate boyhood attempt to build something similar on my dining room table. Certainly the Middlesbrough bridge's endurance record is more impressive, having survived raids from both Zeppelins and the Luftwaffe.