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Almost 700 intrepid explorers celebrated the forthcoming centenary of the Transporter Bridge by taking a rare chance to climb to the top of the iconic structure on Saturday.
Visitors from as far afield as Australia and Canada climbed the Transporter’s steep steps to enjoy panoramic views from the landmark’s walkway 160 feet above the River Tees.
Along with hundreds from Teesside, visitors travelled from across the UK including Norwich, Oxford, Motherwell, Manchester, Leicester, York, Newcastle, Sunderland and Leeds.
“The day was a fantastic success,” said Rodger Wakerley, Principal Engineer for Middlesbrough Council. “There was a continuous flow of people going up the bridge and we got a fabulous reaction from every one of them.
“Most of them had never been to the top of the bridge before. They picked a great day for it because the weather was perfect for wonderful views of Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s Monument.”
In fact, the day was such a success that Rodger hopes the annual open day can be repeated more often. “There’s great pride in the Transporter from locals, but the distances some people travelled to see the bridge tells you that the bridge’s fame is spreading.
“We were delighted with the number of visitors and they all left buzzing with what many described as an unbelievable experience. When the new lifts are installed as part of the Transporter’s forthcoming refurbishment, I’m sure the visitor figures will go through the roof and we’ll need to start holding many more open days.”
As part of the town’s Heritage Open Days and Discover Middlesbrough activities, there was also an opportunity to view the winding house that drives the Transporter car, to look around the structure’s Visitor Centre and to take a trip across the river.
Through a £2.6m grant, the Heritage Lottery Fund is backing the Transporter Bridge centenary celebrations together with refurbishment and upgrade work to the iconic structure, which celebrates its 100th birthday on October 17.
The Transporter is a key theme throughout this year’s Discover Middlesbrough activities, with many events taking place over the next few days.
Locals and visitors alike can also enjoy a trip back in time by joining historian Martin Peagam on the Middlesbrough September 1911 Tour. Starting from the Transporter, Martin will lead a walk around central Middlesbrough, talking about the buildings, entrepreneurs and architects that shaped the town 100 years ago.
Part of the Heritage Open Days, the September 1911 Tour takes place 12 noon to 2pm this Wednesday September 14 and 10am to 12 noon on Saturday September 17. To book a place, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Transporter Bridge Centenary Concert in Middlesbrough Town Hall this Thursday evening, September 15, will see the world premiere of David Golightly’s Middlesbrough Symphony. Tickets, priced £25 and £22.50, are available from the Town Hall Box Office.
There is also a Centenary Cycle Ride at 10am on Sunday, September 18. Starting from the Transporter, the route will take cyclists past Teesaurus Park, under Newport Bridge and along to the Tees Barrage. It is an easy, slow-paced ride, aimed at families with young children. There is no need to book so just turn up!
On the evening of Monday, September 19 there’s a chance to celebrate 100 years of the Transporter when the Northern Region Film & Television Archive (NRFTA) screens a dark abstract film set in the Edwardian era about the building of the famous bridge. It is a tale of money, power, sex, drugs and politics, as the ghosts of 1911 re-inhabit the town on the eve of the anniversary.
The film will be shown in the cinema within Teesside University’s Constantine Building along with extracts from other local footage made for Smiths Dock and Dorman Long. The screening starts at 7pm. To book, call 01642 384022.
As part of the centenary celebrations, children from a number of Stockton schools will enjoy close-hand experiences of the bridge during September when they make trips to the Transporter, taking a look around the bridge, the visitor centre and build their own models.
At Port Clarence, children from High Clarence Primary School are designing and making up floral tubs with Stockton Council’s Care for Your Area Service Team to mark the Transporter’s 100th birthday.
2 week festival in partnership with Heritage Open Days celebrating the best of Middlesbrough.
2011 marks an important anniversary for Middlesbrough as we celebrate the centenary of our iconic Transporter Bridge come discover the best of Middlesbrough!