A £16m project to transform the Newport Transporter Bridge into a major tourist attraction got underway earlier this week.
Councillor Jane Mudd, leader of the council, led the celebrations at a sod-cutting ceremony at the bridge site this morning to mark the start of work to build a new visitor centre.
The project will also see extensive restoration work carried out on the bridge, which will ensure its preservation for future generations.
The new centre, which will be linked to the bridge via a walkway, will allow us to bring the history of the bridge to life through showcasing the personal stories of those who designed, built and used the bridge.
One such important milestone in the bridge’s history was the original sod-cutting ceremony held by the bridge’s constructors back in 1902, which this morning’s ceremony paid homage to.
The Transporter Bridge transformation project is being led by Newport City Council. Funding for the project has been provided by the council, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Welsh Government, and the Wolfson Foundation.
The Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge are also fundraising for the project, and presented a £20,000 donation for the project to Councillor Mudd at this morning’s ceremony.
Commenting on the ceremony, Councillor Mudd said: “I was delighted to welcome colleagues and visitors to our celebration of the project and of our fabulous Transporter Bridge this morning.
“The bridge is a physical gateway to Newport’s industrial past, evoking memories and a sense of nostalgia for local people. It is our city’s icon, the cornerstone of our heritage offer, and we take great pride in having such a rare landmark on our doorstep.
“Transforming the site into a major tourist attraction will bring cultural and economic benefits to the city. It will enable us to showcase the bridge to a much larger audience, and ensure future generations will be able to enjoy this unique structure in the same way previous generations have.”
Andrew White, Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said “We’re proud that this is one of our largest ever investments in Wales.
“The Newport Transporter Bridge Transformation will help sustain jobs, support economic growth, drive tourism and galvanise that strong sense of pride Newport has in its unique heritage.
“It not only preserves a bridge from our past it creates a bridge to today’s communities and provides a bridge to future generations.”
Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport and Chief Whip, Dawn Bowden said:
“The transporter bridge is an icon of Newport and a significant part of Wales’ industrial heritage.
“The Welsh Government is committed to safeguarding this heritage for future generations. I am delighted that thanks to our support, that work has now started and that this iconic site will be renewed as one of Wales’ major heritage sites for years to come.”
Residents will be able to keep up to date with progress through a series of behind-the-scenes videos, and the project team will also be developing an outreach programme, ‘Beyond the Bridge’, which will engage with local communities and organisations.