Newport Bridge, Tees River, Stockton-on-Tees

Tees Newport Bridge: Straddling across time

The first time you lay eyes on the Tees Newport Bridge, it immediately awakens something inside of you; sending out a message that makes you stop in your tracks (if you take the public footpath of course). Many cross the bridge in their daily hum-drum, and very few pay careful attention to it. The modern world has relegated it to a mere inanimate state for passing traffic. The yobs' distorted artwork projects (graffiti) on the base pillars of the bridge are self-evident. Once in a while somebody would come along and cover up all the artwork with a lick of black paint, encouraging the graffiti artists to improve on their previous efforts. And on top of this beautiful bridge the vista belongs to the nesting birds.

Newport Bridge is donned in a decaying green skin, straddling the Tees on eight enormous base pillars. Up close a network of steel beams, angle-iron and flat-bar confuses the eye, there are so many crisscross pieces of heavy metal, thousands of rivets (I would say about the size of a grown man's thumb) keeping the steel structure intact. Long, thick and heavy cables now hanging stiff in the cool breeze once performed a very important job—lifting the bridge for passing ships.

Sadly in 1990 the Tees Newport Bridge was lifted for the last time before it entered a perpetual frozen state; decommissioned forever, but never forgotten.

The squeaking of the mailbox flap at 9 Stainsby Street announces the delivery of the Stockton News (Stockton News May 2010, PDF Doc, 4.42MB). It lay on the carpet for a while before I finally picked it up. I was scanning through the pages when a header caught my eye, ‘Celebrating 700 years of markets’. The Stockton Market was celebrating 700 years, 700 YEARS! For a moment I tried to fathom this enormous number...

The Stockton Market came into being in May 1310 to be precise and in 1934 the Tees Newport Bridge became part of time and part of history. For a while my beloved bridge seemed insignificant compared to the 700 year old market. But only for a while, it is and always will be part of the rich history of the North East. It has straddled the Tees River for many years now, and will do so for many years to come. It will continue to pay witness to the ever changing modern world.

Almost every morning during my stay in Thornaby-on-Tees, I took a brisk walk down to the slow moving Tees River, then onto the winding public footpath, across the Newport Bridge to the Stockton side and back home again.
I miss those moments and the faint rhythm of the Tees River against the Newport Bridge. •

Words & Photos: Adriaan & Martine Venter (Tees Newport Bridge, Tees River, Stockton-on-Tees, Thornaby-on-Tees, 23 images)