Opened in 1876, the Tyne Swing bridge replaced an earlier Georgian bridge which was too low to let large vessels pass.
A temporary bridge was erected in 1865/66 to allow the dismantling of the old stone bridge while the new one was built. Dredging was done to deepen the river at either side of the bridge and also further up-river.
In 1868, work started on the new bridge and three masonry piers were built, the moving part of the bridge revolving through ninety degrees on the centre pier to allow ships to pass on either side.
The controls were mounted in the cupola over the roadway and the machinery on the central pier.
The bridge opened in 1876, with the first swing made for shipping on 17 July 1876. Up to the 31st December 1981 the Bridge opened 286,281 times enabling 448,090 vessels of over 220 million total net tonnes to pass through.
In contrast, today the Bridge opens approximately 4 times per week. With the fall off in traffic, the light was discontinued.
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