Gateshead Millennium Bridge (2002) Gateshead, England
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a steel tilt bridge spanning the River Tyne between Gateshead’s quays to the south and Newcastle upon Tyne, England on the north bank.
In 1996 Gateshead Council launched a competition to find a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists that would link developments on both sides of the river. The brief of the competition, which attracted over 150 entries, was that the bridge should complement the six existing bridges, allow shipping to pass underneath and not obstruct the quayside. The entries were reduced to a short-list and Gateshead residents voted on their preferred design.
The award-winning structure was designed by architects Wilkinson & Eyre Architects and structural engineers Gifford & Partners. Sometimes referred to as Blinking Eye or Winking Eye Bridge because of its shape and tilt mechanism the bridge is made up of a pair of steel arches; the deck that comprises the pedestrian and cycle path and the supporting deck that forms an arc over the river. The pedestrian and cycle deck forms an almost-horizontal curve which is suspended from a series of suspension cables.
An electric hydraulic system rotates the bridge back on large bearings through an angle of 40° to allow ships and boats of up to 25m (82 ft) tall to pass. The opening and closing operation can take as little as four and a half minutes. The bridge tilts as a single, rigid structure. As the arch lowers, the pathway rises, each counterbalancing the other. This ensures a minimum amount of electricity is used during each tilt. 36,000 people lined the banks of the River Tyne to watch the bridge tilt for the first time on 28 June 2001.
Weighing more than 800 tons the bridge is 126m (413 ft) long, 8m (26 ft) wide and the top of the arch stands 50m (164 ft) above the river. It cost £22 million to build.