Film ID:
NEFA 10416



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A promotional film made by Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd showing the various stages in the construction of the Tyne Bridge from 1926 until its opening on October 10th 1928 by King George V and Queen Mary. The film uses animated graphics to show some of the technical aspects of the bridge's construction and is filmed at various locations around the bridge in both Newcastle and Gateshead.

Title: The Building of the New Tyne Bridge between Newcastle & Gateshead.

The film opens on the River Tyne looking upstream to show the many bridges over the river, including the competed Tyne Bridge.

Title: Engineers – Messrs. Mott, Hay & Anderson. Architect – Mr R. Burns Dick. Contractors – Messrs Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd.

Title: The construction is more easily followed if considered in three parts.

Title: Part 1: The Foundations. Part 2: The approach Span. Part 3: The Main Arch.

Title: Part 1 – The Foundation. A start made on the Newcastle quayside.

A construction site with cranes on the Newcastle side of the river. A small boat passes heading downstream.

Title: The caissons under construction at ground level preparatory to sinking.

Two large steel framed structures are dug into the surrounding earth. Groups of men are working both inside as well as around the foundation of the structures. A man rivets a plate of steel.

Title: A diagram illustrates the method of sinking caissons under compressed air.

A drawing shows a cut section of the caisson foundation in the riverbed followed by an illustration showing the principle of a Pneumatic Caisson. An animated arrow points out the high water mark, river bed, concrete, compressed air supply pipe, men descend the shaft, the bucket shaft and working chamber under air pressure.

Title: The following views record the actual work as carried out: the shaft with excavators entering the air lock.

Men work to dig around the foundation of two caissions which have a number of tubes coming out of them. A number of men enter the caisson and the large iron door is closed.

Title: Men excavate underground in compressed air in the working chamber of the caisson.

The men are seen working in a small cramped space digging with shovels and pickaxes and putting the earth into a large bucket. Some of the men stop digging and help to manoeuvre the bucket which is being lifted out of shot.

A short animation show how the bucket is being lifted to the surface through an airlock.

Title: The bucket leaves by air lock and is swung away.

On the surface two buckets are manoeuvred out of the airlock by two men. An empty bucket is then put back into the air lock. An animation shows men working underground. The caisson sinks lower as the earth is cleared away.

Title: Wet concrete is continually added to the top of the caisson as it sinks.

A large machine is continually turning a large drum. Concrete is pouring out of the drum into a large bucket. The process is being controlled by two men who help to manoeuvre the bucket which is then lifted out by crane. The bucket is then manoeuvred into position by another man who knocks out the bucket pins and watches as the concrete is poured onto the ground. Two men shovel the concrete into the foundations.

Title: The process is continued until each caisson comes to rest on solid rock, seventy feet below ground level.

Title: Part 2 – The Approach Spans.

Title: These consist of heavy continuous girders supported by octagonal steel columns standing upon cast iron cylinders filled with concrete.

There is a large steel girder with a man stirring a bucket in background. The film pans up to a group of men who are working on a wooden platform locking another girder into position. Another steel girder is then lowered into position by crane and a group of men help to manoeuvre it into position. On the side is written Messrs Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd – Middlesbrough.

Title: The internal stiffening of one of the columns. In their finished state these columns are filled with concrete.

One of the steel girders is laid on its side and the films shows its internal structure.

Title: The following diagram shows the methods of erection of the approach spans by “launching”.

An animation shows a cross section of the River Tyne with crane on the lefthand side . A section of bridge is lowered into position, and moves to span the river.

Title: As the span moves forward, a section 41 feet long are built on behind by heavy crane - animated sequence showing section of the bridge building out across the city. The nose piece rides over rollers on the tops of columns – and in the same manner reaches its final position on the abutment steelwork - The temporary nose piece is removed.

Title: A pair of complete columns with the steel work being launched towards them over a roadway.

Outside St Mary’s Church on Church Street in Gateshead, the span can be seen resting on the steel platform over the road. Pedestrians walk past the church and under the partially completed bridge. A car drives past the church followed by a man leading a horse and cart. Looking down Church Street towards Newcastle, the Keep can be seen in the distance.

Title: Meanwhile the steel work is being built on behind.

A group of men work on a large steel structure with St Willibrord with All Saints Church in the background. There are various views of the steel frame from different angles with men working on it.

Title: Note the temporary nose piece to enable the span to ride easily onto the rollers on top of the columns.

Again from Church Street outside St Mary’s Church the nose piece can be seen suspended from the roadway above. Pedestrians and traffic continue to travel up and down the road. Three men can be seen working from the platform above the road with crowds of people watching from the churchyard.

Title: Part 3 – The Main Arch.

Title: The novel method of erection employed is shown in the following diagram.

Another animation shows the construction of the bridge's steel frame cradle.

Title: A 5 ton crane – which proceeds to erect supporting cradle – a 20-30 ton crane is erected here -The heavy crane continues erection of cradle – and first section of main arch -“The Heavy crane is dismantled, and re-erected here by the light crane - Heavy crane completes cradle, and continues erecting main arch. Heavy crane is again dismantled and re-erected here:

The animation shows the crane being built on the completed cradle section.

Title: It proceeds with main arch - Heavy crane is again dismantled and re-erected here.

The animation shows the crane being rebuilt on a completed cradle section.

Title: Anchorage cables are fixed and tensioned.

An arrow points to where the cables are connected.

Title: The front portion of the cradle is now dismantled with block and tackle. The 5 ton dismantles remainder of cradle. Lower part of support section removed. Heavy crane is re-erected here – and continues to erect main arch: Shows crane being built on completed cradle section.

There is a new animated drawing showing Newcastle on the left and the River Tyne with bridge under construction

Title: 1st position of anchorage cables: arrow pointing to line connecting bridge scan with roadway.

Title: Temporary steel masts are erected and 1st position cables are replaced with 2nd position cables. Temporary run-way, built at future road level – and erection of arch proceeds - Third position cables now replace 2nd position cables - Light crane is erected which dismantles and re-erects heavy crane beside it to continue erection of arch and runway - Light crane is re-erected ahead and again brings heavy crane beside it - The same operations have been performed on the other half-arch.

The animation shows the two sides of the cradle coming together.

Title: Heavy main bearings with steel pins from enormous hinges for each half of the arch.

Looking toward the Newcastle quayside, the bridge's steel frame is partly completed. A large steam ship is moored alongside a warehouse and men are working nearby. View of the Tyne Bridge from Side.

Title: The next stage – the arch supported by cables in their 1st position with the mast in course of erection.

Looking toward Gateshead the film shows the 2nd position masts with supporting cables. A warehouse with the name “IBEX” on chimney breast and a steam cargo ship moored along the quayside can also be seen which is being unloaded. There is a closer look of the cabling supporting the cradle.

Title: The mast, which supports the cables in their 2nd and 3rd positions, stands on the deck of the approach steel work.

A view of the support masts with groups of men on top working on the cabling.

Title: Cables for the 3rd position are now attached.

Cabling is suspended between the masts and the bridge cradle. Men work on the cradle.

Title: Cranes on the top boom continue the erection. A 20 ton member being hoisted into place.

A crane manoeuvres a large steel section into position. Men on the bridge use ropes to help position it.

Title: The general progress of erection, showing the gap still to be bridged.

The film shows various views of the now partially completed bridge and the gap still left to go. A large steam ship is moored along the Gateshead side of the river.

Title: Adjustment of the suspension cables to ensure equal distribution of the load.

Looking up from the Side, six men walk out onto the cabling without any safety equipment. Looking down from the bridge another four men walk out onto the cabling with the street some distance below.

Title: The adjustments having been made, the men return.

The four men stop and look towards the camera before one of them starts to walk back. The men walk back as seen looking up from Side.

Title: The erection of a member of the lateral K-bracing

Seen from the top of one half of the bridge, a crane on the other half moves a large section of steel into position.

Title: Work proceeds in all weathers. One of the verticals being hoisted in the rain.

A large vertical steel girder high in the sky is manoeuvred into position by a group of six men. The Newcastle skyline and quayside can be seen in the background.

Title: Unhooking the crane rope from a hanger after its erection.

A man hangs from the hook of a large crane which then moves out away from the bridge and begins lower the man. He grabs another vertical which is hanging in the air by another crane and climbs onto it. Another man hangs from another crane hook that is being manoeuvred towards yet another vertical. This time the crane takes him upwards. Another vertical is positioned by a man hanging from it as well as other men on the bridge. A man slides down a correctly positioned girder.

Title: The gap is getting smaller.

Looking from Gateshead into Newcastle, the bridge is nearly meeting.

Title: A view along the level of the future roadway.

From the bridge roadway the cradle is nearly completed. Men are working on the bridge.

Title: Fixing the final member of the top beam.

Filmed from ground level, looking upwards, men are working near the middle of the bridge helping to manoeuvre a small section of bridge into position. This final section joins the two parts of the bridge together.

Title: A 9 inch gap now separates the two complete halves of the arch, which are lowered towards one another by special jacking apparatus.

Men are working on the top of the bridge and the gap described can be clearly seen. Men continue to tighten the cabling of the bridge. A man in a hat appears to be supervising. Close-up of one of the cabling assemblies with men working on it.

Title: The last stage before the actual closing.

The film shows the gap between the bridge halves with men working underneath. Distant shot of the bridge, showing men walking on top.

Title: Lower Out – maroons are fired and the flags break as the arch settles into final position.

Looking up at the bridge, the gap is now closed. Men are standing around, and flags are then raised in the centre of the bridge as well as from the large cranes.

Title: Interested spectators.

A group of men and women onboard a boat look up at the bridge as they travel under it. Three men are talking together. The group gets off the boat and walks towards camera.

Title: The steel work being now complete, work on the road and footway is put in hand.

More men are working on the road and footway. Railway lines have been fitted, but no road surface has been laid. One man is sweeping while another appears to be ringing a bell. The roadway appears to be nearly completed with a road surface surrounding the railway tracks. A crane can still be seen in the background and the surface for the footpath is not yet complete. In the background, the Salvation Army Men’s Palace.

Title: The opening Ceremony – October 10th 1928. Their Majesties the King and Queen arrive at the Royal Pavilion on the Bridge.

The Royal Carriage approaches the pavilion. King George V and Queen Mary stand with the Mayor of Newcastle inside the pavilion.

Title: Mr Anderson of Messrs Mott, Hay & Anderson, the engineers for the bridge is presented to their Majesties.

Mr Anderson shakes hands with the King & Queen and talking to them. The King and Queen stand listening to a clergyman give a blessing for the bridge.

Title: Sir Arthur Dorman, Chairman of Messrs Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd presents His Majesty with a gold key.

Sir Arthur Dorman talks to the King before presenting him with a key.

Title: His Majesty declares the bridge open, and inserts the key to raise the barriers, to the accompaniment of a Royal Salute.

The King makes a speech before inserting key into slot. Cannons are fired in honour of the occasion.

Title: The first carriage to use the bridge. Their majesties in their Ascot Landau.

The Royal Carriage pulls away with the crowd waving. The King doffs his hat. A precession of carriages and cars crosses the bridge is surrounded by large crowds of onlookers. Shot looking down at the Newcastle Quayside showing huge crowds watching and two steam ships moored. In the background can be seen “Skippers” building. Shot moves left onto the bridge where crowds are watching as the Royal Carriage comes towards the camera preceded by four policemen on horseback. The royal carriage passes under the camera surrounded by crowds waving handkerchiefs. Crowds walk across the bridge. Flags fly from the top of the bridge.

Title: The bridge in use.

Car, lorries, bikes, buses as well as horse drawn carts cross the bridge into Newcastle. Many people turn around and look at camera.

The film ends on the River Tyne looking upstream showing the Tyne, Swing and High Level bridges.