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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Newcastle's Swing Bridge & Victorian Tunnels

As can be seen from the photo dates earlier this month I took advantage of a visit to the engine room of Newcastle's famous Swing Bridge , although we did not get to see it open the action was very well explained, it uses only water power to open and close having two huge accumulators that store water ready to operate the gears. Everything is very heavily engineered and will easily go on for another hundred years or more .
The Bridge was erected   in place of a fine classic Georgian stone bridge to allow ship access to Armstrong's works further up the Tyne 

Later that day I visited the Victorian tunnels near Ouseburn , this was a tunnel that ran from Spittal Tongues pit right down to the quayside to carry coals to the waiting ships , during the war the tunnel was used as an airaid shelter with numerous entrances added  along it's length at one point I asked how deep we where 55` , it's not open for all it's length as some has collapsed, blast walls where also added during the war as was lighting and it was used as a convenient walk way   well lit fairly dry access to the City which was in a total blackout situation , they are well worth a visit  and have plenty of  history , like the cost of adding entrances which spirraled out of control due to the difficult conditions  and the large cost of  "light bulbs" having to be continually replaced not because they wore out but where removed , the explanation was  courting couples where drawn to the fact that they could access the tunnels and not wanting to be seen the bulb was removed and once removed you could not see where to put it back so the bulb went off in some blokes pocket !!
One guy spent the whole war living down the tunnels having come through the first world war .his family taking food etc down to him . Somehow I cant imagine today's generation  putting up with it no phone signal for one thing 1
It's well worth a visit takes a couple of hours but can be rather chilly and chilling !

 The left hand gears are engaged and this turns the table ( the grey bit ) to swing the bridge , the right hand gears are the slightly faster gears, that have never been used  and the whole set up is repeated on the right side of photo so it would always be able to operate

 Brass everywhere
 Now that I think of it the tower bit was never explained , but the road runs just behind the white rails
 A different view of the Tyne Bridge  and the Blinking Eye

On along the Quay To visit the Victorian Tunnels well worth a visit 

 This is the OUSEBURN
 An art centre
 I did not have the camera to get any good photos in the tunnels these where bunk beds when the tunnels where used as a WW11 airaid shelter
 There is not much height or width for that  matter  just enough room for a coal wagon I think we went about 750 metres then back again

 This is the Grainger market(south end near the flower seller)apparently also used as a WW11 shelter there is no access other than they had the entrance open to show where it was .
The following are copies of a photo display showing the shelter from I think the 60's

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