The centenary celebrations for the Tees Transporter Bridge are set to hit a high this Sunday (October 16) when Middlesbrough plays host to a colourful carnival, spectacular live performance and a fireworks finale.
Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a series of activities will take place on the eve of the iconic structure’s 100th birthday, which will be further celebrated with a civic ceremony at the foot of the bridge on Monday (October 17), the actual anniversary of its 1911 opening by Prince Arthur of Connaught.
The events get started at 9am on Sunday morning when the first of 100 bungee jumps takes place from the towering steelwork 160 feet above the River Tees.
The jumps take place through to 5pm and organisers hope many onlookers will come along to show their support and enjoy the spectacle from the Transporter’s viewing gallery as fundraisers and bravehearts alike bungee, zip slide and abseil from the bridge.
Basketball fans can support the Middlesbrough Lions at Eston Academy for a 4pm tipoff at a special Transporter Bridge Centenary price of £2 and then make their way to Centre Square. mima will be open late 5-6pm with extended hours.
By then, more than 850 local schoolchildren and young people will be gathered at the town’s Centre Square between mima and the Town Hall ready to take part in a carnival that will parade along Albert Road and Bridge Street East from 6pm.
Featuring colourful costumes, lanterns, puppets and a 15 ft Herculean giant named after the town’s Latin motto, Erimus, as a personification of the place and the people of Middlesbrough. The figure will stand on Centre Square throughout the day before coming to life to lead the procession.
Each element of the street carnival will depict the history of the Transporter, the Tees, the industrial heritage and “the town that built the world”.
Ironopolis, a spectacular live outdoor performance by international arts company, Emergency Exit Arts, will bring the show to a breathtaking climax close to Middlesbrough College, featuring a gigantic blast furnace as its centre-piece and the gigantic Erimus figure rising above the town.
A fireworks finale featuring the colourfully illuminated Transporter Bridge as the towering backdrop will bring the night to a sparkling conclusion.
There are three great ways to best enjoy the carnival. Spectators can either gather at Centre Square from 5pm, ready to follow the parade along its route from 6pm, they can take up viewing spots along Albert Road or Bridge Street East leading to the college, or they can be among the first to get a great viewing position between the college and the old clock tower ready for the pyrotechnic finale and fireworks.
mima will be open late and featuring performances from special guests between 5pm-6pm, while the Big Screen on Centre Square will feature wonderful short films and classic Transporter footage and a montage of images by photographer Paul Farrer.
Members of the public are also invited to join the party at the foot of the bridge on Monday – the Transporter’s 100th birthday – when, from 1.30pm, there will be special performances, official speeches and even a Transporter Bridge cake!
The bridge’s Visitor Centre will also host a heritage exhibition, featuring Transporter artefacts, memories, photographs and video clips collated by the centenary reminiscence project.
And for those crossing the Transporter on the 100th birthday itself, there will be a special memento of the occasion.