Teesside’s iconic Transporter Bridge is attracting record numbers of thrill-seekers looking to take on the UK’s only bridge bungee challenge.
Last year more than 1,600 braved the dizzying 160ft plunge from the top of the North East landmark – and that was despite December’s big freeze which saw all Transporter events cancelled.
The Bridge is becoming a major attraction for bungee enthusiasts, with jumpers travelling from across the UK and as far afield as Japan, Australia and the USA.
And their fund-raising efforts have raked in a cool £77,000 for charities and good causes.
The burgeoning popularity of the sport is having a knock-on effect on the local economy, with more than 5,400 spectators turning out to watch their loved ones take the plunge.
That influx of visitors to the area generated nearly 300 hotel nights – from B&B stays to chain hotels - in 2010 alone, making a significant contribution to the local economy.
During the year the Bridge also played host to some 300 abseils and 30 school visits, and was the subject of some 20 talks around the Tees Valley by the experts who maintain and run it.
UK Bungee Club Events Co-ordinator Rachel Bailey said: “The Transporter Bridge is quickly becoming one of the most iconic bungee locations in the world – its popularity is clear to see from the hundreds of videos available for all to see on YouTube.
“We’re looking forward to continuing this success in conjunction with Middlesbrough and Stockton Councils.
“The centenary year is the perfect opportunity to build on the Transporter’s reputation as the place to go, and further develop partnerships with businesses, charities and other local organisations.”
Councillor Paul Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Transport, said: “The Transporter Bridge is a powerful symbol of Teesside’s proud industrial heritage, and has dominated the skyline for nearly a century.
“The Bridge is known the world over, and remains in fine working order 100 years after it first took passengers across the Tees.
“But it is also moving with the times, with more than 1,600 daredevils scaling it last year to enjoy the only bungee experience of its kind in the UK.
“It seems fitting that they should enjoy the fantastic views of Teesside and beyond before taking the plunge into the thrill of a lifetime.”
Councillor Bob Cook, Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, added: “I’m sure the original bridge builders never imagined bungee jumping, let alone their marvellous bridge becoming a worldwide icon for the sport, but it’s wonderful to see it being enjoyed by so many people and helping raise so much for charity.
“Yet it still forms a very important part of the area’s transport network and, like thousands of local people, we are very proud to have such an important bridge in our area.”