Newport Transporter BridgeCardiff
River Usk
West side: NP20 2JG
East side:  NP19 0RB 
For a different type of day out in South Wales, why not use the Newport Transporter Bridge aerial ferry to cross the River Usk. This Grade I Listed structure is over 110 years old and an iconic landmark in Newport.
Its historic importance stems from its very unusual design. There are only two others like it in the UK and seven in the World. It is owned and run by Newport City Council and celebrated its centenary in September 2006.
As the bridge is now being treated as a tourist attraction by the city council rather than as part of Newport’s transport infrastructure, it is now only open during the spring and summer months.
Visitor Centre
A Visitor Centre on the West side of the bridge is open when the bridge is operating, and is run by the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge (FONTB) who are dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the bridge. The Centre has information on the history of the bridge, a picture gallery, merchandise, and an archive. For membership enquiries visit the FONTB website (see below).
Using the Bridge
1 April - 1 October:
Open Wednesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from 10:00 – 17:00 hours.
Last admission to high level walkway: 16:00 hours
Last gondola crossing from west to east: 16:30 hours
Do not forget to check the weather, it is not safe to climb to the top in very wet or windy conditions and it is not very pleasant either!
- Unlimited Crossings
Adult day visitor - £3
Child day visitor (aged 16 years and under) - £2
Tickets give access to the high level walk way, the motor house platform and unlimited crossings on the day of purchase.
- Single crossing
Adult - £1.00
Child - 0.50p
- Return crossing
Adult - £1.50
Child - £1.00
Children aged 2 years and under travel free.
Staff retain the right to refuse access to children and young people not accompanied by an adult.
The FONTB want you to enjoy your visit to the Transporter Bridge. Some aspects of the bridge, especially the climb to the high level, present a challenge and if you wish to climb the bridge you should follow these safety guidelines and ensure that:
- you are physically capable of climbing the 270 steps
- you do not have any known heart/lung conditions
- you are not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- you do not suffer from vertigo
- you are capable of climbing the stairs unaided
- you do not carry any children and
- you take notice of the safety information made available.
It is the responsibility of the parent or carer to decide whether children or charges are capable of climbing to the high level.
How the bridge operates
A transporter bridge is basically a suspended ferry that can operate more efficiently than a conventional ferry. A high level boom that allows ships to pass underneath is suspended from towers at each end. The boom carries a rail track on which a moving carriage or ‘traveller’ runs. A gondola or platform is suspended from the carriage and can be pulled from one side of the river to the other by means of a hauling cable.
In 1900 Newport was a very busy port, much of it centred up river from where the Transporter Bridge now stands. Most of the population lived on the West side of the river but industry, in particular the then new Lysaghts steelworks, was expanding on the Eastern side. For most of the population this meant a 4 mile (6.4 km) walk across the town bridge to get to work.
A ferry operated but the ever changing times of the tide and its extreme rise and fall meant this was not a practical method of crossing for work - there had also been a number of fatal accidents.
The site was a difficult one because of the very high tidal range and the need to maintain access for high-masted ships.Various alternatives were suggested including a conventional bridge, a lifting bridge and a tunnel. To achieve the necessary height the approaches to a conventional or even lifting bridge would have had to be extremely long and a tunnel was considered too expensive.
Although an ‘aerial ferry’ was the idea of English engineer Charles Smith, the first working example was built by Spaniard Alberto Palacio and Frenchman Ferdinand Arnodin in 1893 at Portugalete near Bilbao in Spain.
The Borough Engineer, Robert Haynes, had heard of the new innovative bridges being built on the continent and encouraged the Borough Council to visit the newly built transporter bridge at Rouen in France.
The councillors returned from their visit convinced that a transporter bridge offered an economical solution as tunnelling was technically difficult and expensive and a conventional bridge required a very long approach ramp to gain enough height to maintain a waterway for the tall ships of the day.
The remarkable Newport Transporter Bridge opened in 1906 and has dominated the Newport skyline ever since. With its towers standing 645 feet (169.6 metres) apart and rising 242 feet (73.8 metres) above road level It is electrically powered, by twin 35 horse power motors. The gondola is pulled across by a cable wound round a drum in the motor house on the East bank at a maximum speed of 10 feet per second (3.048m/sec).
It is one of only six operational transporter bridges left from a total of twenty constructed worldwide.
The 1959 film 'Tiger Bay' was filmed partly on the Bridge (though artistic licence somehow moved it to Cardiff docks!). The film starred a young Hayley Mills who is now Honorary Life Vice President of FONTB.
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44(0)1633 656656
Getting There
- By Car
Although the Transporter Bridge itself does not have a postcode, the following may help if you are using Sat Nav:
West side: NP20 2JG
East side:  NP19 0RB
Google Maps - Newport Transporter Bridge