Tyne & Wear

Gateshead Millennium Bridge bollards will be removed

Unpopular safety bollards which have skirted Gateshead's Millennium Bridge for the past decade are to be removed.

The 16 grey steel piles were designed to channel vessels away from the bridge and into the deepest part of the river.

But, ever since they were added to the plans at the insistence of the Port of Tyne harbourmaster, their necessity has been questioned.

Now Gateshead Council says it expects to make an announcement next week regarding their departure.

Shortly after the bridge was erected in 2001 John Johnson, who led the project for the council, said: "The general reaction is always: 'Why have you got those monstrous piles in the river?'"

The bridge's designer, Jim Eyre, said he never wanted them and is delighted they will be removed.

He said a collision protection system was not part of the original brief and their engineers, Gifford, did not include one in the plans.

However, the Port of Tyne harbourmaster Captain Gary Wilson raised concerns and a risk assessment concluded the piles were needed.

A series of floating booms attached to 16 grey metal bollards was installed directly underneath the bridge.

'Real eyesore'

Image caption Amateur photographer Paul White says the piles 'disrupt the sightlines'

Once people realised the piles were there to stay the outcry was instant.

It was claimed they were ugly, unnecessary and spoiled the view.

Paul White, a designer and amateur photographer from Newcastle, said: "They've been a real eyesore for the past decade, detracting from the minimalist beauty of the Millennium Bridge.

Mr Eyre feels the same: "The bridge itself, I think, looks great but then your eyes tend to go to the stuff in the river. They're not complementary.

"Perhaps it harks back to an era when a lot more river traffic was coming up and down. But the river traffic is relatively light and the vessels aren't that big on the whole."

A revised risk assessment supports this view and Gateshead Council has been applying for the necessary legal permission to have the piles removed.

The Port of Tyne has said it is "supportive of the council's decision to remove the bollards."

The council is expected to release full details and a timescale next week.

Mr Eyre is delighted: "We always felt that they would go eventually because we couldn't believe that people would put up with them for ever and, at the time, we thought it was a bit of an overkill."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites