First drive of the 2016 season - a visit to the Transporter Bridge in Newport
Newport Transporter Bridge on April 10th 2016
12 of made the visit to Newport – 7 from Wye Dean and 5 from Glavon. 4 met in Monmouth, then another 2 joined us in Coleford.A drive through the edge of the Forest of Dean took us to Chepstow, then onto the A48 towards Newport, with a stop at the Chepstow Garden centre for coffee & to rendezvous with the 5 from Glavon.
It was a blustery day, and the organiser was worried that the bridge may not be open, but all was well – apparently it's designed to withstand winds of over 100mph!
8 brave souls decided to walk up the 278 steps and onto the overhead walkway at a height of 164ft to cross the river, whilst the other 4 stayed on river level, crossed on the gondola and took lots of photos.The climbers had a safety briefing, and then set off, albeit rather nervously.We took the steps at a steady pace, trying not to look through the open metal grid steps to the water below.We had to hang onto our hats, as we were pummelled by very strong winds on the way up, but were soon relaxing aloft with the security of solid 'flooring'.Here we took the chance to admire the far reaching views and take photos.To continue the crossing, we dropped down a couple of steps and back onto the open grid – very solid, but pretty scary to see the water so far below.The mantra was 'don't look down – look ahead!'When the gondola crossed beneath us a few heartbeats were missed, and white knuckles gripped the handrails.All too soon it was time to start the descent, which was probably trickier than the ascent for most.
I'm taking the liberty of sneaking some of Andy West's facts about the bridge –
"It was opened in 1906 and provided the population of Newport with access to the expanding industry on the east side of the River Usk. Why build a transporter bridge? Well, the banks of the Usk are very low and to provide enough height for shipping, the lead ramps would have needed to be very long and costly. The tidal range of up to 43 feet must have also been a factor.
The gondola which can carry six cars plus foot passengers is suspended from a traverser frame underneath the main gantry which is hauled from one side to the other at the dizzying velocity of 3 metres per second, powered by electric motors situated in a raised building on the east bank and connected by steel ropes."
After the adventure we adjourned to the Waterloo Hotel – a really interesting venue with fabulous tile work beneath the bar and a mahogany framework above – for well-earned refreshment.We enjoyed an excellent lunch, and then set off back to the bridge where 4 of the TRs lined up for a photo shoot on the gondola before crossing to the East side to continue their journey home.
Thanks to the Glavon members for their support on our first drive of the 2016 season.