Byker Road Bridge
The Byker Road Bridge, built in 1878, was intended to carry pedestrians and horses with carts, cars had not really been invented. Amazing to think that such a massive structure would be built over a small river, just to link Newcastle with Heaton and the coast. The Byker Road Bridge was built almost 50 years before the Tyne Bridge and only slightly shorter than its younger cousin. The railway viaduct preceded the Byker Bridge by 40 years (1839).
The Bridge was opened to pedestrians on 19th October 1878 and to carts and carriages on 27th January 1879. There was a half penny toll, Parishionors of St Dominics on New Bridge St, complained that they were having to pay to go to church. The toll was withdrawn on 12th April 1895.
The Byker Bridge was then the second bridge to be built linking the crests of the Ouseburn Valley. The design by Robert Hodgson, he had been Robert Stephenson’s Resident Engineer for the construction of the Newcastle High Level Bridge, and the original Byker Bridge very much resembled a railway structure, with its tall brick arches.
The Byker Bridge was opened by the Vice-Chairman of the Byker Bridge Company. Originally only 30 ft wide but was widened to 50 ft in 1899. According to the ICE’s Civil Engineering Heritage book, the bridge was widened in 1902, to cantilever the footpaths beyond the edge of the brickwork
The widening of 1902 was “improved” in 1985, adding prestressed concrete beams on cantilevers to support both footways and new crash barriers. The deck of the bridge was rebuilt May 1985-March 1986. Today the bridge carries a four lane road and two footpaths/cycle tracks.
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