Monday, March 28, 2011

City of Bridges

I cannot think of a city which has the number and variety of bridges that Newcastle has. If you do, please write to me.

The city is actually built on a gorge, disguised by building now. Transecting this ravine gorge are other deep cut river valleys, hereabouts called 'denes'. One of these is the Ouseburn dene, partly covered over by Victorian planners but still an obstacle to road and rail. The Lower Ouseburn has some wonderful bridges; one, the 19th century marvel of railway building is being given a complete life enhancement. Serious work has begun to tackle this mammoth task. Speaking to a workman I discovered the timetable is no less than fourteen months.

Presently, work is under way to prepare the site. Heavy equipment will have to be deployed and the structure has to be replaced like for like since it is officially listed Grade II. Apart from that badge of national recognition it also carries the vital London to Edinburgh rail link. Traffic is continuous. The bridge will have to remain open for business throughout.

A new exercise and training yard has been constructed away from the bridge for use by the Stepney Bank riding school. Spring has also sprung so it will be interesting to see what effect the works has on wild life. I disturbed a Sparrowhawk from a tree beside the bridge so the outlook seems good – so far.

Wandering about (and abiding by the rules and not infringing the site boundary) I went on via Stepney Bank.

I like Stepney Bank. To me it has precisely the features I have remarked on more than once on this blog; informal, flexible spaces of a variety of interests and businesses. It is neither precious or self consciously 'arty'; graphic designers sit in offices next to garage repair businesses and a stables survives half way up. At the top of the 'bank' (rise), where this 19th century street dipping down to the Tyne, meets a busy and anonymous arterial road, the feeling of alienation common to such suburban spaces is thwarted by the robust bulk of a traditional British public house that might have brought a beaming smile to the face of G.K. Chesterton.


Teri Tynes said...

Beautiful pictures, Anton! I'm intrigued by the variety on Stepney Bank, too - just the kind of informality and change that makes a good urban walk. Happy spring!

Anton Deque said...

Thanks Teri, but I am slacking! I have excuses but afterwards, sitting on train I thought there was more to say.