Restoration of North East's iconic Tyne Bridge to begin

Council leaders speak of 'huge pride' as 'vital' Tyne Bridge restoration gets underway on 2 April.
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Three men wearing hard hats and high-vis jackets standing on a scaffolding platform beneath the Tyne Bridge, which is wrapped in scaffolding at one end. On the left is Cllr Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council. On the right is Cllr Nick Kemp, leader of Newcastle City Council. In the middle is Esh Construction chief executive, Andy Radcliffe

A multi-million-pound restoration of the iconic Tyne Bridge will get underway in less than two weeks. The four-year restoration programme will begin to restore the iconic structure to its former glory.

Appointed contractor, Esh Construction will begin the hugely complex and challenging engineering project to preserve the landmark for future generations.

More than 900 structural steel repairs are needed along with concrete, stonework and masonry repairs, drainage improvements, bridge deck waterproofing, resurfacing, parapet protection and bridge joint replacement. 

Throughout the restoration period, sections of the iconic structure will be clad in scaffolding wrapped with protective sheeting, allowing access to carry out repairs and surface blasting before the bridge can be repainted. Due to the loading constraints of the bridge, the scaffolding will be installed in approximately 20 phases, while maintaining vehicle and pedestrian use throughout the project. 

Cllr Nick Kemp, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “It is with huge pride, that the restoration of this iconic structure is getting under way. 

“We know there will be travel disruption, but these are vital works that are required to preserve our much-loved bridge for future generations and see it shining proudly in the Tyneside sky again.

“As I’ve said before, Newcastle is very much open for business throughout the restoration period. We need people to plan ahead, follow the travel advice and make the switch to public transport as we carry out this hugely important programme of restoration."

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: “It’s fantastic that the restoration programme is now getting started, to get the bridge back to the condition we all remember and appreciate.

“We need everyone in the region who loves this iconic bridge to get on board with the project, follow the travel advice, and help us keep the transport network moving.”

Esh Construction will deliver the project on behalf of the councils. Esh's Chief Executive, Andy Radcliffe, said: "We are a local contractor, and it gives us great pride to be delivering the restoration of a structure that is known far and wide as a symbol of the North East.

“After an extensive period of investigations and the delivery of initial works on the Gateshead quayside, we are now eager to get started on the main programme of works which are essential to futureproof the bridge for the next 100 years and more.”

The restoration programme

Year 1

Main structural repairs, drainage, kerbing and surfacing works to each side of the bridge.

Repainting works to the underside at the Gateshead Quayside. 

After the departure of the kittiwakes in August 2024, the scaffold access will be erected on the Newcastle Quayside similar to that currently on Gateshead. 

Year 2

Main river span repairs and repainting carried out. 

Work from the underdeck to Newcastle approaches start once the kittiwakes depart in September 2025.

Year 3

Newcastle approaches scheduled to complete by the end of 2026. 

Hanger painting up to 6m and  protection deck over carriageway will allow main arch to be painted.

Year 4

Complete painting to main arch, remove all scaffold and carry out final surfacing to carriageway.

The work so far

Work began below the bridge deck last September, using the councils’ contribution in anticipation of the main bridge deck works starting in early 2024. The first phase of scaffold adjacent to the Gateshead tower is now fully installed and encapsulated with a protective sheeting to protect the surrounding environment, members of the public and nesting kittiwakes. Kittiwake hotels have also been installed on the towers to provide alternative nesting provision whilst access is closed to the Gateshead Quayside for a proportion of  the 1,200 pairs of kittiwakes who nest on the Tyne Bridge each year.

From April, lane restrictions will be put in place to allow Esh Construction to access the bridge deck void through the footpath where structural repairs to the bridge hangars can take place. At the same time grit blasting, steel repairs and re-painting to the under-bridge deck will also take place within the sheeted scaffolding. The main structural repairs are essential to increase the current load capacity of the bridge in order for scaffold to be erected over the arch and under the deck later in the programme.

Around 13,000 tonne of scaffold and components are required for the entire scheme. 

Towards the end of 2024, work will begin on building a near-identical scaffold on the Newcastle quayside, adjacent to the tower, while the Gateshead scaffolding will then be dismantled following the completion of this phase of works.  

The Tyne Bridge restoration is funded by the UK Government, as well as monies from both Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council. The Government signed off £35.2 million on 2 February 2024 towards the cost of two projects: the restoration of the Tyne Bridge and the Central Motorway upgrade. The council still await confirmation of the remaining £6 million which was announced as part of the Network North plan in October.

Significant disruption is expected when the traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction in April and people are being urged to plan ahead, utilising public transport where possible. For More information see: