Three Amigos by the Tyne Bridge
Early in their world tour, the 3 Amigos saw Sydney Harbour Bridge when they stayed with blipper Beckett. Well today we took them to Newcastle Quayside to see the Tyne Bridge. We spent some considerable time working out where they should sit for this photo - Trigger was all for sitting on a railing right at the edge of the river but I was concerned that he might take the opportunity for a quick swim, which wouldn't have been wise. (When I told him that he couldn't sit there he was remarkably good about it, so hopefully his behaviour is improving.) So eventually they agreed to sit on the Swing Bridge for this photo. Through the space under the Tyne Bridge you can see the white arch of the Millennium Bridge (for pedestrians and cyclists) and (on the Gateshead side) the iconic Sage building designed by Norman Foster.
The history of the Tyne and Sydney Harbour bridges is interesting. Which came first? Well, both bridges were designed by London firm Mott, Hay and Anderson - much later involved in designing the Channel Tunnel - and both were built by Middlesbrough contractors Dorman Long, which went on to become British Steel. Mott, Hay and Anderson had their design for the Sydney Harbour Bridge accepted on March 24, 1924 - over a year before work on the Tyne Bridge began in August 1925. The initial clearance work for the Sydney Bridge had begun the year before that, so you could say that the Sydney Bridge came first! However, speaking at an official function after the Tyne Bridge was opened, 84-year-old Sir Hugh Bell, representing the builders, is reported to have said: “This is regarded as a trial trip for the Sydney Harbour Bridge – and we’re grateful for it.” So as well as being finished first (February 25, 1928 as against 19 January 1932), it seems the Tyne Bridge was a bit of trial run for Dorman Long. So you could say that the Tyne Bridge was first!
Sydney does things bigger though - the Sydney Bridge is three times as long, almost three times as wide and over twice as high as the Tyne Bridge, and it carries trains as well as cars.
Finally, one has to admit that both bridges are said to have been inspired by another, older bridge - New York City’s Hell Gate Bridge, a steel railway bridge crossing the East River, designed by Gustav Lindenthal: it was completed in 1916, officially opening the following year.