One of Wales' most iconic structures is due to receive a multi-million pound makeover, the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales has announced.
Newport Transporter Bridge, the world's most complete surviving transporter bridge, will undergo repairs and renovations thanks to a £8.75 million National Lottery grant announced on Friday.
Last March, Newport City Council announced that it wanted to make the 114-year-old bridge, one of only eight remaining transporter bridges in the world, a major tourist attraction.
The grant, which is the third largest of its kind ever made in Wales, will be used to fund repair-work, preserve the structure and open a new visitor centre at the site.
“The transporter bridge is an icon of Newport, and a significant part of the story of Wales’ industrial past, one that we need to preserve for future generations so that we can tell the stories of our shared history," said Cllr Jane Mudd, leader of Newport City Council.
"I’m therefore delighted that we have been able to secure this funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund which will allow us to do exactly that.
“The restoration of the bridge is also important from a regeneration perspective. The development of a new visitor centre has the potential to create both job and volunteering opportunities, and enhance the city’s reputation as a visitor destination, both of which will bring wider economic benefits to Newport.”
Newport Transporter Bridge has been attracting 20,000 visitors a year on average over the last five years. It’s expected that the restoration and building work will take three and a half years and that once it’s completed, 47,000 people will visit the site annually within the first three years.
The restoration work includes:
Opened in 1906, the bridge's aerial ferry was a solution to the problem of transporting workers from the west of Newport across the river Usk without disturbing traffic into the town’s busy port.
Once the restoration work is complete, visitors to the unique national heritage attraction will be able to follow in the footsteps of the men who built the bridge by climbing to the top of the walkway, 55 metres above the water.
From there, they will be able to see across the landscape of south Wales.
The project hope to reconnect the Newport Transporter Bridge with its local community and create an important visitor attraction in south east Wales
It also aims to contribute to the redevelopment of Newport and provide an economic boost for the area, providing jobs and visitor income.
The new visitor centre, which will be linked to the bridge via a walkway, will have a café, toilets and changing facilities, shop, exhibition gallery and community space.
“Thanks to National Lottery players, Newport Transporter Bridge – one of the most important historic landmarks in Wales - has been safeguarded for future generations," said Andrew White, director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales.
“This investment, the third largest we have ever made in Wales, will help sustain jobs, support economic growth, drive tourism and create a sense of pride in Newport’s unique heritage.
“We are proud of the investment we have made in Wales – more than £410 million over the past 26 years.
"After a year of providing emergency support to Welsh heritage organisations hit by Covid-19, we will shortly be reopening applications for National Lottery project grants and look forward to funding many more important heritage attractions across Wales."