The Tees Transporter Bridge, often referred to as the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge is the furthest downstream bridge across the River Tees, England. It connects Middlesbrough, on the south bank, to Port Clarence, on the north bank. It is a transporter bridge, carrying a travelling ‘car’, or ‘gondola’, suspended from the bridge, across the river in 90 seconds. The gondola can carry 200 people, 9 cars, or 6 cars and one minibus. It carries the A178 Middlesbrough to Hartlepool road. Locally the bridge is often referred to simply as ‘the Transporter’.
The bridge was built in 1911 under a 1907 Act of Parliament. The opening ceremony on the 7th October 1911 was performed by Prince Arthur of Connaught. The Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge reflects the dynamic industrial heritage of the area.
Teesside has long tradition of bridge building. Many of the world”s greatest bridges including the nearby Tees Newport Bridge, the Tyne Bridge and the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia were designed and constructed from Dorman Long steel.
However, the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge at 850 feet (260 metres) long and 255 feet (69 metres) high at the tallest point, is the largest working bridge of its kind in the world. The distance between the towers is 580 feet (177 metres).
In December 1993, the bridge was awarded the Institution of Mechanical Engineers” highest honour, The Heritage Plaque, for engineering excellence, in recognition of the Council”s efforts in keeping the bridge in good working order. Its historical importance was also recognised in 1985 by its listing as a Grade II Listed Building and its prominence as a local landmark was further enhanced in 1993 by the installation of flood lights that operate during the winter months.
Its has featured in films and TV programmes including Billy Elliot, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Fast Show, and Steel River Blues. In the millennium celebrations of 2000, fireworks were fired from its length.
Its appearance in Auf Wiedersehen Pet (series 3, 2002) was owing to its, in the story, being dismantled to be sold to and re-erected in the USA. A public outcry ensued from people who believed that the bridge was really being pulled down. The BBC was required to put a disclaimer on the end of the last episode of the series stating that ”The Transporter Bridge remains in Middlesbrough”.