2012, the year of something else? I’d decided I wanted to do some different stuff in different places, and the Newport Transporter Bridge fitted the bill. Brad, Marc, Neb and Urban Fox joined me on the trip down the M4 for this adventure, at a place from which surprisingly few photos have appeared on the internet. Lets rectify that.
Positioned close the to Newport Docks on the River Usk, the bridge was constructed in 1906 to allow greater access to the east side of the river. With a gondola that has capacity for 6 cars, the bridge has never earned enough money to cover the costs of its construction, but being a beautiful blue climbing frame that’s been maintained and repaired over the years, it’s earned it’s Grade I listing and is noted as being the most obvious identifier of the town of Newport.
The top of the bridge is accessed by a series of staircases and ladders and at the very top, you’re 74 metres above the water. The tightly pulled cables stretch from a box in amongst the pubs and houses, up over the top of the tower and then back down to the main deck, before repeating over the other tower. Essentially, the bridge is a giant frame held rigid with the same physics of a suspension bridge.
Brad’s camera was dropped on a previous adventure and is in for repair, so our favourite PhD student took it upon himself to interact as physically with the bridge as he could. First he sat on the cables, then laid down, before securing himself by twisting his feet underneath the cables and lowering himself upside down. Following the cables to the deck was the final accomplishment of this bizarre, daring and ultimately terrifying15 minutes of adrenaline seeking, which was followed by Neb performing the same.
As much as I enjoy heights, acts such as this tend to make me question my own abilities to maintain concentration without those thoughts of panic setting in. As such, I tend to avoid interactions like this, my preferred form of edgework consisting of roughing it round the continent chasing Soviet derps guarded by angry foreigners.
The area around the bridge was quiet, however on the east side, there was a distinct noise of dogs barking as we loitered. I’d never climbed a bridge in the UK before, having only tackled those in Budapest before, and the suggestions of what might occur if we were caught may have caused the dogs to smell fear of some sort. Contrary to popular belief in our sanitised world, it’s actually ok to be scared, it shows you’re testing your boundaries and challenging the beliefs that have set in during life.
Urban Fox is a self confessed bridge whore. but I must admit I was stunned when she returned from New York and posted this. With two bridges in her backyard, the concept of a transporter bridge wasn’t exactly alien to her either. We discussed whether Newport was as tall as the Middlesbrough Transporter, and having decided that it was a little shorter, I was surprised to learn that this is actually the tallest in the UK and the longest remaining in the world.
After a slow start to the year, filling a car and heading west in search of something ‘epic’ made a refreshing change to returning to the security conscious London that we’re all so familiar with. Testing boundaries and experiencing something new to all of us in the UK was an invigorating tonic following weeks of apathy in a London where everything appears to now have been done.