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High Level Bridge

High Level Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 13, 2018

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
St. Nicholas Street and Railroad (Various Railways) Over River Tyne
Location
Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead: North East, England: United Kingdom
Structure Type
Metal Tied Through Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1849 By Builder/Contractor: Hawks, Crawshay and Sons of Gateshead, England and Engineer/Design: Robert Stephenson

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2008
Main Span Length
125 Feet (38.1 Meters)
Structure Length
1337 Feet (407.52 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
Spans
6 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This large bridge which carries railway traffic on an upper deck, and road and pedestrian traffic on a lower deck is one of the largest cast iron bridges in the UK. From a distance the bridge has an impressive yet graceful appearance. The lower deck passes through the cast iron arches with the upper deck positioned above the arches. The bridge is a tied arch, and under the deck, hidden behind a decorative cast iron deck fascia, are three bundles of eyebars on each side of the deck which form the tie. Two pairs of arch ribs, one pair on each side of the roadway, form the arch structure. Each pair of arch ribs is joined by a complex and aesthetically pleasing system of bracing which can be appreciated by users of the walkway. From up close, such as on the walkways, an impressively complex arrangement of cast iron segments are all fit together like pieces of an enormous puzzle to form this bridge. The size and complexity of this bridge makes the cast iron details particularly impressive.

This bridge has been carefully preserved in a unique manner, which has retained the majority of the original bridge design and materials, while carefully concealing modern load-bearing beams that have reduced the load on the original cast iron arches.

An interesting aspect of the design of the bridge is with the columns and hangers. On the lower (road) deck, the vertical members that connect the arch below to the deck function in tension and are hangers. In contrast, any vertical members that rise above the arch and support the upper deck are in compression and are true columns. However, to provide a consistent appearance, the heavy cast iron column design extends below the arches in the "hanger zone" of the bridge. The secret in the design is that hidden inside the columns below the arch ribs there were originally wrought iron bars which were the true hangers and handled the tension forces associated with that function (unlike wrought iron, cast iron does not perform well in tension). In looking at photos of this bridge, additional hanger rods will be seen between the original hanger columns; these additional hanger rods are non-original additions that replaced the original wrought iron hangers.

The main contractor for this bridge was Hawks, Crawshay and Sons of Gateshead, England, while the iron was cast by John Abbot and Company of Park Iron Works, Gateshead, England.

Grace's Guide has a particularly nice write-up on this bridge.

Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings

Listed At: Grade I

Discussion:

List Entry Number: 1248568

Railway bridge and road bridge combined. 1849. Designed by Robert Stephenson probably aided by John Dobson. Ashlar and cast iron. Two arcaded stone abutments and five monumental stone piers support six segmental iron arches between the upper railway and the lower roadway. The lowest beam supporting the roadway is moulded architrave-fashion; and cast iron pilasters, link the upper and lower levels, both of which have openwork parapets. To south single massive ashlar pier. Round arch supports main bridge to north, and dividing curved railway lines above and straight roadway beneath to south. Y-plan access section to main bridge supported on 3 diminishing arches with iron cage supporting railway above. East side curves to south-east and west side to south-west. Curved iron cage has 15 square columns to west and 19 columns to east. Both ending to south with massive ashlar pier. South access to bridge at road level has iron cage supported on 4 square iron columns with linking entablature above topped with iron balustrade. To right east cage with railway line extends to massive ashlar pier. To left matching stone pier set back. In continuing use for road and rail traffic. One of the finest pieces of architectural iron work in the world. The northern section of this bridge is listed in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

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Photo Galleries and Videos: High Level Bridge

 
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Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
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Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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