Gateshead Millennium Bridge was the world’s first tilting bridge. Spanning the River Tyne to link the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides, opened in 2001.
The bridge form, a pair of steel arches spanning 100m between concrete islands, rotates 40 degrees to permit vessels to pass beneath. The bridge deck provides both a footway and separate cycleway, taken in a wide curve across the river. It links Gateshead's arts quarter on the south bank with Newcastle's historic main quayside. Our bridge engineers developed the competition-winning concept design in collaboration with Wilkinson Eyre Architects to provide a new iconic structure for the new millennium.
The deck section — essentially a stiffened steel box — provides a footway and separate cycleway, extending in a wide curve across the river. The deck is suspended on steel cables at 6m centres from the second parabolic steel arch. The arch and deck unite at each end, carried on groups of cast in situ large diameter piles, bored into the coal measures underlying the site. Structural glass canopies shelter both landing points and ship protection works, incorporating floating components, are also located there.
The bridge tilts through 40 degrees to allow vessels to pass upriver. The arches converge around a transverse cylinder arrangement, supported on spherical bearings. Behind the anchor blocks at each end, a machine room houses an independent hydraulic power supply to drive the mechanism. A steel paddle on the cylinder connects to a bank of hydraulic rams that thrust against the paddle to rotate the structure. A separate inner room is provided for electrical switchgear.
In developing the detailed design for the bridge, an aerodynamic investigation of the structure was commissioned. Site supervision and contract management then came within our remit, as well as responsibility for co-ordinating the hydraulic, mechanical and electrical works.
Using its inventive pivoted solution, the architecturally stunning structure overcame constraints with its geometric simplicity and was a catalyst for regeneration in the area. Cementing its iconic status, The Royal Mint chose the bridge for a commemorative one pound coin sitting alongside bridges designed by Telford and Brunel.
Mick Henry, leader of Gateshead Council, remarked: “The Gateshead Millennium Bridge has become such a familiar part of our riverscape that it’s incredible to think that it’s only been here for ten years.”
This iconic bridge and world’s first has received accolades aplenty, from the ICE Award Supreme Award for Structural Excellence in 2003 through to being shortlisted as one of ACEs Projects of the Century in 2013. We are so proud to have played such an important role in this fantastic project.