NewcastleGateshead’s successful Bridges Festival earlier this month saw thousands flock to Newcastle Quayside and Gateshead Quays to take part in a weekend of family activities, shows and games, with the many bridges that cross the Tyne acting as the background to the celebrations.
The celebration gave visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the bridges, works of civil engineering which not only create the iconic skyline of the Tyne but allow for the swift functioning of our regional economy.
The festival, and last year’s Transporter Bridge centenary celebrations, were just the kind of events we need to see more of in the North East. The bridges demonstrate a history of innovation on Tyneside and Teesside, each showing the best of the engineering of their age.
What’s more, events such as these help to inspire and educate young people about the career paths which can help them to become the people who landscape our region’s future.
ICE wants to see more events which highlight such innovation, and its importance in shaping and developing the region. The opening of the New Tyne Crossing, which saw Her Majesty the Queen visit the North East, showed the value of civil engineering in uniting communities within our region as well as improving transport links to the rest of the UK.
The New Tyne Crossing is a prime example of the role that civil engineering plays to improve all of our lives, giving parents more time with their children rather than waiting in traffic and hugely improving the accessibility of businesses on both sides of the Tyne.
The North East has long been at the forefront of civil engineering, from the world’s first passenger line, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, to the ports which made the region a giant of ship building. Civil engineering has been both part of the formation of the region, and itself has been defined by the region.
Civil engineering is a discipline that has shaped the North East, giving us iconic skylines and easy access to the rest of the world. Whether you view a bridge as a thing of great beauty, as excellent engineering, or just a bridge, it’s hard to deny that civil engineering has increased the accessibility, efficiency and functionality of the region.
We should celebrate our works of engineering and innovation, whether our functional railways connecting cities and villages, our iconic bridges from Berwick to Middlesbrough, or our roads which take us through cities and over moors. Our engineering’s great diversity, beauty and functionality deserves to be celebrated. These great works of civil engineering can and should be the focal points of a successful North East through similar fun and educational events held on a more regular basis.
Photograph courtesy of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, photographer Richard Kenworthy.