High Level Bridge: engineering successful heritage solutions

In May 2008 the High Level Bridge, which spans the River Tyne between Gateshead and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, reopened following a seven-year, £42 million programme of repair and strengthening that also encompassed its conservation as an important piece of UK national heritage. The bridge has a statutory designation as a grade I listed building, the highest designation, and is a strategic part of the rail and road systems in the north east of England. A decision was taken that the bridge required more than its regular maintenance; it required 'renewal'-a term used by English Heritage not for replacement but for a process that occurs at a longer cycle than maintenance and is more drastic in terms of interventions and the loss of heritage values. The varied nature of necessary repairs and interventions to historic buildings (bridges are buildings under the protective legislation) means that there are no easily defined rules; judgement and the application of principles of conservation are how protection and change are managed. This paper seeks to explain the methods and processes used to give this bridge a sustainable future while managing the changes to protect and respect its historic value. The works included complete replacement of the suspended road deck, restoration and electrification of the original character-defining lamp standards, extensive metalwork repairs, strengthening of rail-deck cross-girders, including award-winning research and development into the fatigue performance of cast iron, and a complete repaint of the structure in heritage colours. A modern addition is the installation of vehicle impact protection for the cast iron columns of the road and reduction of the road deck width to a single lane.


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  • Accession Number: 01141196
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: TRL
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Sep 30 2009 9:09AM