Transporter Control Cabin in 1969

t15185A view of the Transporter in 1969, looking towards the Middlesbrough side. I think the time would have been the early afternoon, but I can’t remember what time of the year it was. Maybe early spring. There isn’t many cars on the platform and the walkway over the top had been closed. It all looked a bit derelict. It seems to show that the Transporter needed two men for its operation. One the driver, in the cabin, and his mate to look after the loading of the cars and opening and closing the gates. I suppose in those days they would have been getting about £12 a week, but these costs would have had too much impact on the toll charges. Does anyone remember what they were in those days?

Photograph and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

3 thoughts on “Transporter Control Cabin in 1969

  1. James and his mother were extremely lucky not to become wartime casualties.

    In daytime, coming down the steps is an unnerving experience. Each flight of steps seems to be about 20 feet high and descends at an angle of 45 degrees, and were obviously built to allow teams of men going over the bridge of their way to and from work. Accordingly there is a huge gap between the hand rails, these offering no support (at least to one’s confidence). One gets the impression that with the slightest slop one would go head over heels down the stairs and then going over the barrier at the bottom of each flight.


  2. The Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge opened in 1911 and is one of only three still in existence in Britain. One of the area’s best known landmarks, the Grade II-listed structure is 851ft long, with the passenger gondola which hangs from it running on rails across the River Tees. It is still fully operational. The bridge is currently owned by Middlesbrough Council and Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council. The Transporter Bridge, connects Middlesbrough, on the south bank, to Port Clarence AND Billingham on the north bank. It is a transporter bridge, carrying a ‘gondola’, suspended from the bridge, across the river. The gondola can carry 200 people, and 9 cars. Locally the bridge is referred to simply as ‘the Transporter’.
    The idea of a transporter bridge across the River Tees was first mooted in 1872 when Charles Smith, Manager of the Hartlepool Iron Works, submitted a scheme to Middlesbrough Corporation. However it was not pursued and it would not be until 1907, that the Bridge was built by Sir William Arrol & Co.of Glasgow between 1910 and 1911. A transporter bridge was chosen because the proposed scheme had to avoid affecting the river navigation of ships going upriver to the Port of Stockton on Tees. The opening ceremony on 17 October 1911 was performed by Prince Arthur of Connaught.
    During World War II the superstructure of the bridge was hit by a bomb. In 1953, the gondola got stuck half-way across. In 1974, the comedy actor Terry Scott, travelling between Middlesbrough and Billingham Forum, mistook the bridge for a regular road toll crossing and drove his car off the roadway gondola entrance, landing in the safety net, The writer can recall a bread delivery van driver making the same mistake with fatal results. In 1969 a new pipe line was built across the span to transfer oxygen between two Teesside industrial plants.What is a Transporter Bridge? It has featured in films and TV programmes including Boys from the Blackstuff, Billy Elliot, The Fast Show and spender. In the third TV series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, saw the bridge dismantled to be sold to and re-erected in the USA. The local council received calls from people worried that the bridge was really being pulled down. In 2011 the Tees Transporter Bridge received a £2.6m Heritage Lottery Fund award for improvement and renovation work to mark the Bridge’s centenary. On 5 March 2015, the UK Post Office issued a set of 10 First Class postage stamps featuring iconic British bridges. One of these is the Tees Transporter Bridge.
    The fares were only nominal, I used to pay a penny 1948, as a child, and stay on longer for 2, 3 , 4 , 5 ,6 rides back and forth, the staff never bothered us ever. It was fun, the noise, the rumbling and the pigeons strutting around, just guessing in 1969 the fare for cars was around 10/-, (www-source-Bob W)


  3. I have no idea what was happening to the Transporter Bridge in 1969 as I left Teesside in 1961. However seeing the photograph reminded me of an incident almost thirty years earlier. My mother and myself, I was then aged about ten, needed to cross the river from Middlesbrough to Port Clarence in order to catch the last bus to Seaton Carew. Unfortunately due to an air raid warning the transporter was closed. If the bus left before the all clear was sounded we were stranded. Nothing daunted we climbed up the steps to the walkway over the top, crossed over and then down the other side, all in total darkness. The bus presumably keeping to its time-table left as soon as we boarded.
    James Bridge


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