The Crossings That Never Were – 5 Thwarted Attempts to Bridge the River Tyne

The Original Tyne Tunnel

In 1864 predating the Millennium Bridge there was no direct link between Gateshead and Newcastle. With the twin cities expanding fast, there was a call for a more convenient option of crossing, and up stepped the ‘Tyne Improvement Commission’. The commission proposed constructing a 3-metre-wide underground tunnel, deep below the river bed. For one reason or another, the tunnel never progressed past the planning stage. The idea can’t have been all that bad though, with the Tyne Tunnels eventually opening in 1967 and 2011 respectively.

The Grand Suspension Bridge

Conceived in 1967 by architect Dennis Clark Slater, this £16 million project will have seen a glorious suspension bridge erected to rival San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The feature design was planned to cross “the narrows” between North and South Shields however was scrapped, possibly due to its gigantic price tag.

The Bill Quay Railway Bridge

With railways throughout the UK experiencing an unprecedented surge in popularity, numerous plans were put forward for specialist Tyne rail crossings. One of the natural choices for this was the narrow crossing between Walker and Bill Quay. Although unsuccessful, the plan wasn’t on its own in defeat, with further attempts in 1945 and 1992 both being knocked back, making a bridge in this location ever more unlikely.

Parr’s Post War Bridge

After the Second World War was over, the appetite for urban regeneration was sweeping the nation. Newcastle was far from exempt from this, with the ‘Percy Parr’ plan. The plan hoped to deal with the new influx of motor cars by demolishing & rebuilding giant portions of the city to accommodate a new road network. Parr’s plans show the network overlaid on the current city map, with a bridge crossing the Tyne just west of the High-Level Bridge. Thankfully for most, the plans never came to fruition, and the bridge was never built.

Spillers’ Mill Bridge

By the late 80’s traffic crossing the Tyne was becoming something of a problem, and experts warned that the road network would face complete gridlock by the Millennium if something did not change. With almost 80,000 vehicles travelling across the river each day, a low, single carriageway bridge was suggested near Spillers’ Mill, to ease congestion. Other plans such as a crossing at St Anthony’s were touted before finally, the second Tyne Tunnel opened in 2011 to ease North/South traffic flow.


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