Transporter Bridge

Middlesbrough, on the south bank of the River Tees about 9 km from its mouth, is one of the classic new towns of the industrial revolution. It developed from the 1820s as a port for the despatch by sea of coal brought to the coast by railway. It grew as a town with the growth of iron- and steel-making in nearby parts of Cleveland, and in the 20th century with the building in the area of large-scale chemical plants.


There was a need from the mid-19th century for means of crossing the river to and from the settlement of Port Clarence on the north bank, and in 1872 Charles Smith, manager of the Hartlepool Ironworks, made a proposal for something very like a transporter bridge to achieve that purpose, but the local authority decided to use a ferry boat instead. In 1901 the town council began to consider a transporter bridge following the pattern of that built by Alberto Palacio Elisague (1856-1931) at Portugalete near Bilbao, which was opened in 1893. An Act of Parliament was obtained in 1907 and the bridge was constructed during 1911 and opened on 7 October of that year. It was designed by the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co and built by Sir William Arrol & Co.


The bridge is 260 m long, the distance between the two towers is 177 m and the maximum height of the towers is 69 m. It is now the largest working bridge of its kind, although the bridge over the Mersey between Runcorn and Widnes, demolished in the 1960s, had a span of 305 m.


The bridge is regarded as the symbol of Middlesbrough, and interpretation of its history through models, graphic panels, videos and computers is provided at an adjacent visitor centre.

Transporter Bridge
Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre
Ferry Road
TS2 1PL Middlesbrough
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1642 - 728162