The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Newcastle, UK

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a foot and cycle bridge spanning the River Tyne in England between Gateshead on the south bank, and Newcastle upon Tyne on the north bank. The award-winning structure was conceived by international architecture firm, Wilkinson Eyre.

The bridge was lifted into place in one piece by the Asian Hercules II, one of the world’s largest floating cranes, on 20 November 2000. It was opened to the public on 17 September 2001. The bridge, which cost £22m to build, was part funded by the Millennium Commission and European Regional Development Fund.

Already acclaimed worldwide for its physical and aesthetic beauty, it has fast become a significant tourist attraction in its own right.

Huge hydraulic rams, one on each side, tilt the bridge back on special pivots to allow small ships and boats to pass underneath. Its appearance during this manoeuvre has led to it being nicknamed the Blinking Eye Bridge.

The bridge operated reliably since construction, opening to allow river traffic to pass as well as ‘just for show’. Its reputation was untarnished until October 2004 when the failure of a £200 circuit board prevented the bridge from opening.

The construction of the bridge won the architects Wilkinson Eyre the 2002 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize. In so doing they became the first, and so far the only, firm of architects to retain British architecture’s most prestigous prize - after winning the prize in 2001 for the Magna Science Adventure Centre.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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