Swing Bridge, River Tyne

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Swing Bridge
High Level Bridge and Swing Bridge - Newcastle Upon Tyne - England - 14082004.jpg
The High Level Bridge towers above the Swing Bridge across the River Tyne; photograph facing Newcastle
Coordinates 54°58′03″N 1°36′27″W / 54.9674°N 1.6076°W / 54.9674; -1.6076Coordinates: 54°58′03″N 1°36′27″W / 54.9674°N 1.6076°W / 54.9674; -1.6076
Carries Motor vehicle; Pedestrians
Crosses River Tyne
Locale Newcastle-Gateshead, England
Heritage status Grade II* listed
Design swing bridge
Longest span 281 feet (85.6 m)
Opened 15 June 1876
Swing Bridge, River Tyne is located in Tyne and Wear
Swing Bridge, River Tyne
Red pog.svg Swing Bridge, River Tyne shown within Tyne and Wear
grid reference NZ251637

The Swing Bridge is a swing bridge over the River Tyne, England, connecting Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, and lying between the Tyne Bridge and the High Level Bridge.

The machine room, showing one of Armstrong's original three-cylinder oscillating hydraulic motors

The hydraulic power still used to move the bridge is today derived from electrically driven pumps. These feed a hydraulic accumulator sunk into a 60 foot (18 m) shaft below the bridge; the water is then released under pressure which runs the machinery to turn the bridge. The mechanism used for this is still the same machinery originally installed by Armstrong.[1]

It has an 281 feet (85.6 m) cantilevered span with a central axis of rotation able to move through 360° to allow vessels to pass on either side of it.[2]

The previous bridge on the site was demolished in 1868 to enable larger ships to move upstream to William Armstrong's works.[3] The hydraulic Swing Bridge was designed and paid for by Armstrong, with work beginning in 1873. It was first used for road traffic on 15 June 1876 and opened for river traffic on 17 July 1876.[1] At the time of construction it was the largest swing bridge ever built. The construction costs were £240,000.[4]

The Swing Bridge stands on the site of the Old Tyne Bridges of 1270 and 1781, and probably of the Roman Pons Aelius. It is a Grade II* listed structure.[5]

The Bridge featured in the final episode and climax of the educational series Geordie Racer from Look and Read when the villains became stranded on the bridge after a robbery.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Celebrating Armstrong's Legacy with a visit to the Swing Bridge". Port of Tyne. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Swing Bridge at Structurae
  3. ^ "Heritage Locations". Transportheritage.com. 1981-12-31. Retrieved 2017-01-16. 
  4. ^ "The Swingbridge". Archived from the original on 13 September 2014.  [Generates 404 as of 2016-6-17]
  5. ^ Historic England. "SWING BRIDGE OVER RIVER TYNE (1390930)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Louisa Mellor. "Geordie Racer: revisiting an 80s Look And Read classic". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2018-04-10. 

External links[edit]

Next bridge upstream River Tyne Next bridge downstream
High Level Bridge
(Road and rail bridge) 
Swing Bridge
Grid reference: NZ251637
Tyne Bridge