Tyne & Wear

Gateshead Millennium Bridge celebrates 10th anniversary

One of the North East's most famous bridges will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday.

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge across the River Tyne was opened to the public on Monday, 17 September 2001.

The bridge has since appeared on the £1 coin in 2007 and on a postage stamp.

The £22m bridge has won many awards, including the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects annual prize in 2002.

The bridge was officially opened in May 2002 by the Queen and has since caught the eye of millions of people visiting the quayside.

'Something special'

Attracting attention by tilting to let ships through and changing colours, the bridge complements the simple splendour of the iconic Tyne Bridge.

It was designed by architect Jim Eyre of London-based firm Wilkinson Eyre.

The initial idea centred around a 21st Century-style arc, but the architect had to be careful not to make a parody of the Tyne Bridge.

He said: "They wanted something special, we knew that much.

"There was the idea of a curved deck that could be lifted and twisted at either end.

"It would be supported by an arch, so it was really just those two elements with some cables between them.

"The arch, perhaps, was the most important thing, the most dominant thing, and what we wanted to do was, spanning 105 metres, we wanted to get it looking really slender."

The finished bridge was a product of teamwork between Mr Eyre and the engineers - and the rules of what was physically possible.

Image caption Architect Jim Eyre says the bridge has had a "great effect" on both Newcastle and Gateshead

"[The design] came out of those constraints, looking at how you can get the extra length of ramp needed to get to the 5m (16 feet) height in the middle, and we worked out that actually a curved deck that was displacing the line would do it.

"It would actually do enough so that when that deck was lifted up, it would meet the 25m (82 feet) requirement and one could see straight away that was a winning idea."

Even though the bollards around the bridge are to be removed, Mr Eyre said he was still very proud of the bridge 10 years on.

"It's great it's the 10-year anniversary. There's not a single thing I would change on this bridge, I never wanted the bollards there anyway.

"I'm very proud, very proud to be involved in this project. Having an idea and working with the engineers, we all had ideas together, actually, it's great.

"To see it happen and see the great effect that it's had on the cities on either side and the region.

"You keep seeing it in the media, there's been stamps, it's on money, I mean it's fantastic, what more could you ask for?"

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