The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian and cyclist tilt bridge spanning the River Tyne in England between Gateshead’s Quays arts quarter on the south bank, and the Quayside of Newcastle upon Tyne on the north bank. Opened for public use in 2001, the award-winning structure was conceived and designed by architect Wilkinson Eyre and structural engineer Gifford. The bridge is sometimes referred to as the ‘Blinking Eye Bridge or the ‘Winking Eye Bridge due to its shape and its tilting method. In terms of height, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge is slightly shorter than the neighbouring Tyne Bridge, and stands as the sixteenth tallest structure in the city.

Design – Gateshead Millennium Bridge


The bridge was lifted into place in one piece by the Asian Hercules II, one of the world’s largest floating cranes, on 20 November 2000. It was opened to the public on 17 September 2001, and was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II on 7 May 2002. The bridge, which cost £22m to build, was part funded by the Millennium Commission and European Regional Development Fund. It was built by Volker Stevin. Six 45 cm (18 in) diameter hydraulic rams (three on each side, each powered by a 55 kW electric motor) rotate the bridge back on large bearings to allow small ships and boats (up to 25 m (82 ft) tall) to pass underneath. The bridge takes as little as 4.5 minutes to rotate through the full 40° from closed to open, depending on wind speed. Its appearance during this manoeuvre has led to it being nicknamed the “Blinking Eye Bridge”. The bridge has operated reliably since construction, opening to allow river traffic to pass. It also opens periodically for sightseers and for major events such as the Northumbrian Water University Boat Race and the Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Race. One of the principal requirements for opening the bridge is to allow access to HMS Calliope where Royal Navy patrol boat HMS Example is based. The construction of the bridge won the architects Wilkinson Eyre the 2002 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize and won Gifford the 2003 IStructE Supreme Award. In 2005, the bridge received the Outstanding Structure Award from International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE).

Gateshead Millennium Bridge: World’s Only Tilting Bridge

Gateshead Millenium Bridge

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian and cyclist bridge spanning River Tyne in England between Gateshead’s Quays arts quarter on the south bank, and the Quayside of Newcastle on the north bank. The bridge is essentially two graceful curves, one forming the deck and the other supporting it, spanning between the two islands running parallel to the quaysides. To allow ships to pass underneath, this whole assembly rotates as a single, rigid structure. As the arch tilts lower, the pathway rises, each counterbalancing the other, and a pathway over the river is formed. The parabolic curves of the deck extend the 105m crossing distance to around 120m, giving enough extra length to provide the required clearance above the water. The appearance of the bridge when in motion leads to it sometimes being called the ‘Blinking Eye Bridge’ or the ‘Winking Eye Bridge’ since its shape is akin to the blinking of an eye if seen from along the river. Visually elegant when static and in motion, the bridge offers a great spectacle during its operation.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge

  • Constructed – 1998-2001

  • Type – tilting, steel, electrically operated.

  • Position: three quarters of a mile east of Tyne Bridge, between Newcastle and Gateshead.

  • Grid Ref: NZ 264 640


The actual bridge was being constructed by Watson Steel of Bolton (the arch and deck, the former supporting the latter by means of steel cables), the opening mechanism in Sheffield while the frame was assembled locally at the Amec Yard at Wallsend. On 20 November 2000 the huge Dutch floating crane, Asian Hercules II brought the bridge up to the site between Gateshead and Newcastle quaysides. Many people congregated on the quaysides and on the Tyne Bridge to watch. Work then commenced to add the finishing touches which would enable the bridge to tilt to allow ships to pass. The first tilting was on 28 June 2001 and the bridge opened to the public on 17 September 2001. Widespread praise and several awards have followed and the bridge has proved to be popular with the public. Together with the Baltic Center For Contemporary Art and the Sage Music Centre and other developments yet to be completed, Gateshead Quays has taken on a new lease of life and with the renovation and developments on the Newcastle side the riversides have become a popular leisure attraction after years of decay following the concentration of port facilities nearer the river mouth. Initially, cyclists and pedestrians were kept segregated, but now both paths across the bridge are open to pedestrians, often making it difficult for cyclists to ride over. Nevertheless, a welcome addition to the Tyneside Bridges. In 2012 the unsightly bollards were removed. These were originally installed to protect the bridge from ships but now thought unnecessary.

ICE Award Supreme Award for Structural Excellence 2003

Gateshead Millennium Bridge Baltic Millennium Footbridge

Mick Henry, leader of Gateshead Council, remarked: “The Gateshead Millennium Bridge has become such a familiar part of our riverscape that it’s incredible to think that it’s only been here for ten years.” This iconic bridge and world’s first has received accolades aplenty, from the ICE Award Supreme Award for Structural Excellence in 2003 through to being shortlisted as one of ACEs Projects of the Century in 2013. We are so proud to have played such an important role in this fantastic project.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge FACTS:


  • The bridge was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and engineers, Gifford and Partners.
  • Built by Harbour and General.
  • The bridge links new arts and cultural developments on Gateshead Quays on the south bank of the River Tyne with Newcastle Quayside on the north.
  • It will use a world first tilting mechanism to open, turning on pivots.
  • Its opening will resemble the opening and closing of a giant eyelid.
  • It is the only purpose built bridge for cyclists across the river and joins two cross country riverside cycleways which are part of a national network.
  • The bridge will pivot open for tall shipping to pass through.

It’s dimension


  • It weighs more than 850 tonnes.
  • Built on 19,000 tonnes of concrete plus 650 tonnes of steel re-inforcement.
  • It has a total span of 413 feet (126 metres) wide and a manufactured tolerance of 1/8th of an inch (3mm).
  • It rises 164 feet (50 metres) above river level and its foundations go down 98 feet (30 metres) to anchor it to the river bed.

Opening time

  • The bridge will open for shipping to pass through.
  • The bridge uses a world first tilting mechanism to open, turning on pivots on both sides of the river to form a gateway arch. Its opening will resemble the opening and closing of a giant eyelid.
  • Two concrete piers on each side of the river hide the massive hydraulic rams, pivots and motors which will open the bridge.
  • Each opening or closing will take four minutes.
  • It is powered by 8 electric motors totalling 440 kilowatts.
  • The design is so energy efficient it costs just £3.60 each time it opens.




  • Gateshead Metropolitain Council


  • Wilkinson Eyre
  • Keith Brownlie (architect)

Structural engineering

  • Gifford Graham & Partners


  • Harbour & General
  • Volker Stevin

Steel construction

  • Watson Steel Ltd.

Cable steel supplier

  • Bridon International (suspenders)

Mechanical & electrical engineering

  • Bennett Associates




GETTING THERE – Gateshead Millennium Bridge

By Air

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By Bus

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By Train

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Road/Self Drive

UK’s excellent road network links London to other cities in the country. The roads make for a fantastic drive and you can catch glimpses of the beautiful English countryside.


BOOK YOUR HOTEL AS PLAN YOUR HOLIDAY, Gateshead Millennium Bridge:

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Have A Nice Time In Gateshead Millennium Bridge!!!…