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Everything you need to know about the Transporter Bridge

Posted on: August 24th, 2021

The Transporter Bridge is a pinnacle of the Middlesbrough skyline and a marvel of engineering to this day. Until it was closed in 2019 the bridge was the longest working transporter bridge in the world. While its primary use is transporting pedestrians and vehicles from Middlesbrough to Port Clarence via its gondola the bridge has become a visitor attraction and has been used for abseiling, bungee jumping and even zip-lining. 


The Transporter Bridge has been featured in a host of films and TV programs throughout the years. The third series of the comedy series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was focused on the bridge and saw it being dismantled and sold to be rebuilt in America, the series caused so many concerns that the BBC had to add a disclaimer to the last episode saying “The Transporter Bridge is Still in Middlesbrough”. The bridge was also in Billy Elliot, Boys from the Blackstuff and other programs and films.

History of the Transporter Bridge

The Transporter has been around for over a century now, with construction starting in 1909 and completed just two years later by Sir William Arrol & Co. The idea of a transporter bridge was first proposed in 1872 by the manager of the Hartlepool Iron Works but was dismissed until years later. 

The bridge was designed by local company Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co who were also appointed consultant engineers to oversee the project. Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co is unfortunately now in administration with Ben Houchen, Mayor of Tees Valley campaigning to save the historic company and its 200 employees.  We also support the revival of the company and sincerely hope buyers can be found. Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co is a company the people of Middlesbrough can be proud of and is known worldwide for their quality work in places like London and Dubai.

The bridge was officially opened on October 17th 1911 and was originally painted red, though in 1961 it was changed to blue as it stands today. The bridge is the furthest downstream bridge over the River Tees.  

In 1985 the bridge was recognised as a Grade II listed building for its prominence as a historical landmark. Furthermore, in 1993 the bridge was awarded the Heritage Plaque by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the highest honour from the group. 

In more recent times in 2011, the bridge received a £2.6 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund for necessary improvements and some renovation work to celebrate the bridge’s century anniversary. The improvements included a glass viewing lift and a renovation of the bridge’s gondola. 

Recent Times

In the summer of 2019, the bridge was closed due to serious safety concerns, many have questioned the fate of the iconic structure. Some people said the bridge should be scrapped and dismantled and that the design is ineffective in today’s world; others believed the repairs should be made to repair and reopen the bridge. 

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen has spoken on the deterioration of the Transporter Bridge demanding it must be saved. Atha & Co also believe that the bridge should have the essential work required to save the bridge and allow it to work again. The bridge is a huge part of Middlesbrough and Teesside history and has been for over a century. 

A vote was held on whether to repair the bridge and Teessider’s overwhelmingly voted to bring the bridge back into operation. Work has since begun to perform essential repairs on the Transporter Bridge and a task force has been set up to manage the future of the landmark. 

Two Icons of Middlesbrough

Banner showing the Tees Transporter Bridge and the atha & co logo

The transporter bridge is an iconic piece of Middlesbrough history, showing off the true craftsmanship of the local people and becoming an important piece of not only the Middlesbrough skyline but also its culture. Atha & Co is proud to also be a part of that history and culture, we have helped the people of Middlesbrough and Teesside to get what they deserve when they have been unjustly injured or require our help.

Charles Atha of Atha & Co says 

“We really hope that a bid to save Cleveland Bridge Engineering is successful. They created a Middlesbrough icon and fully deserve a prosperous future”

Written by: Atha & Co

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