Swing Bridge, Newcastle (1873-76) designed by William George Armstrong (1850-1925). Photograph and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. Click on image to enlarge it. [This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]

Armstrong's bridge rests on granite piers formed by concrete-filled cast-iron cylinders. It has six spans, two over water. The two centre spans swing open, powered by hydraulic engines. The bridge still opens for boats about four times a week.

The swing bridge looks modest and diminutive here between the Tyne Bridge of 1928 and the Stephenson High-Level Bridge of 1846-49. But it was revolutionary at the time, and usefully replaced the old Tyne Bridge which had become "an intolerable obstacle" (Hearnshaw 119). Armstrong was also responsible for the original mechanism which raised London's Tower Bridge, and which was only replaced in 1974.

Related Web Materials

Hearnshaw, F.J.C. Newcastle-On-Tyne (in The Story of English Towns series). London: Sheldon Press, 1924. (Note: Hearnshaw, who wrote this book while Professor of History at King’s College, London, was previously a Professor at the Armstrong College, Newcastle, which in 1963 amalgamated with Newcastle’s College of Medicine to produce the University of Newcastle.)

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Last modified 21 July 2007