£8.75 million National Lottery boost for the Newport Transporter Bridge
22nd January 2021
The world's most complete, surviving transporter bridge – the 114-year-old Newport Transporter Bridge in South Wales, is set to become a major tourist attraction thanks to an £8.75 million National Lottery grant. It is one of only eight remaining transporter bridges in the world and the funding will allow Newport City Council to repair and preserve the structure and open a new visitor centre at the site.
Opened in 1906, the aerial ferry was a bold solution to the problem of transporting workers from the west of Newport across the river Usk without disturbing traffic into the town’s busy port.
Andrew White, director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said:
“Thanks to National Lottery players, Newport Transporter Bridge – one of the most important historic landmarks in Wales - has been safeguarded for future generations. This investment, the third largest we have ever made in Wales, will help sustain jobs, support economic growth, drive tourism and create a sense of pride in Newport’s unique heritage.
“We are proud of the investment we have made in Wales – more than £410 million over the past 26 years. After a year of providing emergency support to Welsh heritage organisations hit by COVID-19, we will shortly be reopening applications for National Lottery project grants and look forward to funding many more important heritage attractions across Wales.”
Once the restoration work is complete, visitors to the unique national heritage attraction will be able to follow in the footsteps of the men who built the bridge by climbing to the top of the walkway, 55 metres above the water. From there, they will be able to take in the glorious views over South Wales and marvel at the incredible Edwardian structure as they take a ride on the gondola. And at the site’s new visitor centre, there will be an opportunity to learn about the social history and heritage of the bridge and the tidal environment of the river Usk.
Cllr Jane Mudd, leader of Newport City Council, said:
“The transporter bridge is an icon of Newport, and a significant part of the story of Wales’ industrial past, one that we need to preserve for future generations so that we can tell the stories of our shared history. I’m therefore delighted that we have been able to secure this funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund which will allow us to do exactly that.
“The restoration of the bridge is also important from a regeneration perspective. The development of a new visitor centre has the potential to create both job and volunteering opportunities, and enhance the city’s reputation as a visitor destination, both of which will bring wider economic benefits to Newport.”
The project will reconnect the Newport Transporter Bridge with its local community and create an important visitor attraction in South East Wales.It will also contribute to the strategic redevelopment of Newport and provide an economic boost for the area, providing jobs and visitor income.The new visitor centre, which will be linked to the bridge via a walkway, will have a café, toilets and changing facilities, shop, exhibition gallery and community space. There will also be more car parking spaces for visitors and an exciting activities programme including theatrical performances, art classes and mindfulness sessions.
The restoration work includes:
- repairing and repainting the east side approach viaduct;
- repairing the gondola and rotting timbers and replacing worn anchor pins and cables on the main booms;
- restoring lost architectural features and repairing the bridge’s cross beams and anchorage housing, and replenishing all worn wood and steel parts; and
treating the entire bridge to prevent corrosion, repainting and fitting new lighting.
Newport Transporter Bridge has been attracting 20,000 visitors a year on average over the last five years. It’s expected that the restoration and building work will take three and a half years and that once it’s completed, 47,000 people will visit the site annually within the first three years.