A Brief History of Scotswood Bridge (With Old Photos & Film)

Categorised as Tyne & Wear
Scotswood Bridge 1832
Engraving of the Scotswood Bridge in 1832. The suspension bridge, also known as a chain bridge, was completed the previous year. Thanks to Newcastle Libraries' Service.

Glimpse history through old images of Scotswood Bridge, which links the West End of Newcastle and the western fringes of Gateshead.

The Scotswood Bridge used by thousands of vehicles every day is in fact a 1967 replacement for the original Scotswood Bridge built in 1831.

The Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge between Scotswood and Blaydon was erected as a toll bridge in 1831, and was the first bridge over the Tyne completed in the industrial era.

Eventually, it became a public road without charge.


Early photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge, taken around 1890
Early photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge, taken around 1890. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.

1901 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge, with boats at the side of the River Tyne
1901 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge, with boats at the side of the River Tyne. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.
Closeups of a 1901 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge
Closeups of a 1901 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.
Closeups of a 1901 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge
Closeups of a 1901 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.

1907 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge
1907 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge, with a close up to show the horse and pedestrian traffic. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.

1910 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge
1910 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.
Closeup of a 1910 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge, showing boats at the the side of the River Tyne, and many chimneys in the air
Closeup of a 1910 photo of the old Scotswood Bridge, known locally as the Chain Bridge, showing boats at the the side of the River Tyne, and many chimneys in the air. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.

Old photo of the Chain Bridge across the Tyne in 1931
Old photo of the Chain Bridge across the Tyne in 1931. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.
Closeup of an old photo of the Chain Bridge across the Tyne in 1931
Closeup of an old photo of the Chain Bridge across the Tyne in 1931. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.
Closeup of an old photo of the Chain Bridge across the Tyne in 1931
Closeup of an old photo of the Chain Bridge across the Tyne in 1931. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.

Spectators at the 1962 Blaydon Races Centenary enjoyed a parade along the Scotswood Road, over the Scotswood Bridge, and on to Blaydon
Spectators at the 1962 Blaydon Races Centenary enjoyed a parade along the Scotswood Road, over the old Scotswood Bridge, and on to Blaydon. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.

By 1967, narrow pinch points meant it was struggling to cope with heavy traffic from cars.

Plus, in an age which happily swept away historic buildings and structures in inconvenient places, it was seen as too expensive to maintain.


Building the Scotswood Bridge

Two old photos, taken around 1966, show the arches of the new bridge under construction. You can see the original chain bridge – which gave its name to the Chainbridge Industrial Estate – still in place.

Scotswood Bridge under construction c1966
Second Scotswood Bridge under construction, around 1966. Thanks to Newcastle Libraries’ Service.
Scotswood Bridge Chain Bridge Blaydon

Scotswood Bridge 1967

The new Scotswood Bridge cost £2.25m, and opened on March 20th, 1967.

In the footage recorded for the opening, we see people walking across the new bridge, which is still under construction. Diggers are working on the road underneath.

At the end of this clip, we’ll see the Chain Bridge closed to all traffic and pedestrians. The demolition teams moved in soon after.

Newcastle Bridge (1967) – British Pathe on YouTube


The Official Opening 1967

Next it’s the 20th March 1967.

We see Alderman Peter Renwick cutting a ribbon to officially open the new vehicular bridge.

Alderman Peter Renwick was Lord Mayor of Newcastle in 1963 and 1964, and then Sheriff in 1967. Alderman Renwick was one of the key figures who tried to resurrect the dilapidated Blackfriars Friary in the 1960s. One of his suggestions was to open a city records office in the Newcastle site established by the Blackfriars in 1239 AD.

A large crowd watches, and then disperses across the new roads.


Demolishing the Chain Bridge

Demolition of the Chain Bridge Old Scotswood Bridge 1967
Old photo of the demolition of the Chain Bridge in 1967, with a close up of the nearby businesses and housing. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.
Old photo of the demolition of the Chain Bridge in 1967, with two closeups of the nearby businesses
Old photo of the demolition of the Chain Bridge in 1967, with two closeups of the nearby businesses. From the archives of the Newcastle Libraries’ Collections/Flikr.

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