The iconic Tyne Bridge, a symbol of Newcastle’s industrial heritage and architectural prowess, has embarked on its most extensive refurbishment journey since its inauguration.

The Tyne Bridge Restoration will be delivered by principal contractor, Esh Construction, on behalf of Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council. Set to run till 2028, the major project aims to ensure the longevity of this historic structure, blending tradition with modern engineering innovation.

A Monumental Task Ahead

At the heart of this colossal endeavour is the installation of over 13,000 tonnes of scaffolding, encompassing an ambitious 181 miles of the tube. The huge scaffolding project will unfold in phases, starting on the Gateshead side of the river, and will cover every inch of the bridge, from the lower arches to the main span underdeck and the approach spans.

The scaffolding erected by skilled workers from Infrastructure Site Services Ltd will allow trades to access a comprehensive suite of maintenance works, including grit blasting, painting, and structural repairs.

Engineering Innovations by 48.3

The project’s success hinges on its ability to maintain the daily lifeblood of Newcastle—its traffic. 48.3, a scaffolding design consultancy firm, has risen to the occasion with a scaffold system that defies conventional constraints.

Faced with the challenge of executing such a monumental project with minimum disruption to the daily flow of traffic—a lifeline for the city—the project employs a meticulously designed scaffold system.

Utilising tube and fitting with scaffold beams, including ladder beams up to 1300mm Apollo X-Beams, the design incorporates unique tie details that ensure loads from the upper spans are directed into the bridge’s arches, safeguarding the structure’s integrity.

Extensive scaffolding project of the Tyne Bridge Restoration, providing access for maintenance works and structural repairs.
Image Credit: Newcastle City Council

This innovative approach allows the Tyne Bridge to remain open and functional, a critical aspect given its role as the main artery in and out of Newcastle. The scaffold’s design is a delicate balance of engineering acumen and practical necessity, ensuring that additional weight does not compromise the bridge’s architectural and structural integrity.

One of the project’s innovative solutions includes a protection deck over the road, designed using NSS special access beams for swift erection and minimal road closure impact. This approach not only demonstrates engineering ingenuity but also a commitment to maintaining city life’s uninterrupted flow.

Safety and Collaboration at the Forefront

Safety considerations have been paramount, with the project team installing safety barriers and hoarding to protect the public during the works. This careful planning reflects the collaborative effort between the scaffold contractor, principal contractor, and other specialists, ensuring the bridge remains a safe conduit for Newcastle’s residents and visitors alike.

Mark Gilroy, Engineering Manager at 48.3, shares his perspective on the project’s challenges and achievements:

“Our goal for this project was to ensure seamless access for the maintenance needed on Tyne Bridge. Overcoming the challenge of maintaining traffic flow while implementing extensive scaffolding, we worked in close collaboration with the scaffold contractor and principal contractor to develop innovative and unique scaffold designs which have been integral to the project’s ongoing success.

Safety remained paramount, with protection decks and barriers ensuring public safety. As we progress through key stages, our commitment to excellence drives us toward a successful outcome.”

Extensive scaffolding project of the Tyne Bridge Restoration, providing access for maintenance works and structural repairs.
Image Credit: Newcastle City Council

Steve Benton, Principal Engineer and Project Manager for 48.3, highlights the intricate planning and design that went into the scaffolding system. He added, “Our scaffolding design not only provides a secure working platform for bridge repairs and renovations but also ensures the bridge can remain open without being overloaded by the additional weight.

All project designs have been meticulously crafted to facilitate swift deck erection and minimise road closures on Tyne Bridge. This delicate balance of engineering innovation and practical application is crucial for the project’s success, allowing us to preserve the bridge’s functionality and historical significance while carrying out essential maintenance work.”

As the Tyne Bridge restoration project progresses, it stands as a testament to the fusion of heritage preservation and contemporary engineering excellence. This initiative not only aims to restore and strengthen the bridge but also to ensure its legacy for future generations, maintaining its status as a beacon of Newcastle’s industrial history and architectural innovation.