Tyne Bridge should be Restored to Former Glory.
The government says Tyne Bridge should be ‘restored to former glory’ but no funding decision until Autumn. Bid to repair and re-paint Tyne Bridge is put directly to Ministers in House of Commons debate.
The campaign to restore the Tyne Bridge to its former glory came to Parliament today, as MPs heard it was “a great icon of the North East, our pride, our people.” Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah led a debate in which she asked the Government to provide funding so the bridge can be repaired and painted in time for its 100th anniversary, in 2028. She said: “We cannot allow the Bridge to continue in its current state of disrepair.”
Local Government Minister Eddie Hughes said a decision on whether to provide the money will be made in the Autumn.
However, he told Ms Onwurah: “I’m clearly hoping that she is successful in some way, and clearly there are a number of options open, in securing the funding that she needs, because it deserves to be restored to its former glory.” Mr Hughes said the “magnificent” bridge “is recognised world over as a potent symbol of the region, its character and its heritage.”
Newcastle City Council has submitted an £18m bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund after applications for other funding packages failed to materialise.
The campaign also has the support of the North of Tyne Mayor, Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner and MPs.
It was officially opened on October 10 1928 by King George V, and Ms Onwurah said she hoped his granddaughter, the Queen, would attend 100th anniversary celebrations.
Ms Onwurah secured a debate specifically about the bridge, which took place in Westminster Hall, one of the debating Chambers of the House of Commons. It was attended by other backbench MPs and the Government Minister.
She said: “The Tyne Bridge was last fully painted in 2000, and the paint system is designed to last approximately 18-20 years – a new paint job is overdue, as well as repairs needed for the road deck, the towers, the stonework, the steelwork and the installation of a new drainage system.”
She told Ministers: “We want to ensure it is looking its best as the symbol of our region’s proud engineering past and, we hope, prosperous future. We want to make it fit for a Queen, the Queen in fact, we very much hope the Queen will consider commemorating the Bridge her grandfather opened.”
But she warned: “If the Bridge is to be ready for its birthday we need to start planning it now.”
Ms Onwurah called the bridge “a great icon of the North East, our pride, our people, our culture and our engineering, it is one of the greatest bridges of the world, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful bridge ever.” However, she added: “Or it is when it is looking at its best. Which is not now.”
She said that the bridge not only connected the north and south of the Tyne, but represented the wider North East region. “It spans the region in its construction. It was built by Dorman Long, which went on to become British Steel, and were based in Middlesbrough, on the Tees.”
Ms Onwurah paid tribute to pioneering engineer Dorothy Buchanan, telling the debate: “it is particularly fitting that we are celebrating the Bridge today, International Women in Engineering Day. The Dorman Long design team included the first woman to gain entry to the Institute of Civil Engineers Dorothy Buchanan. As a Chartered Engineer myself I want to pay particular tribute to her.”
She also urged the Government to make better use of images of the North of England, including the Tyne Bridge, when it promotes the UK.