Ensuring Longevity of Tees Transporter Bridge

“The efforts and expertise of companies like Deritend will ensure that it is still up and running in another 100 years.”

The Tees Transport Bridge in North Yorkshire connects Middlesbrough on the south bank to Port Clarence on the north bank. Carrying a travelling gondola suspended from the bridge, it can carry 200 people across the river in 90 seconds. It is the second largest remaining example of this type of bridge in the world. The bridge was built between 1910 and 1911 to replace an earlier steam ferry, and it has been kept in excellent working order ever since. In December 1993, it was awarded the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Heritage Plaque for engineering excellence. Our experience, skill and expert knowledge were called on to deliver a bespoke solution that would help the bridge to continue to serve North Yorkshire as a working transporter bridge while maintaining its historic features and value as a heritage site.

A Unique Challenge

Middlesbrough Council, which controls the operation and maintenance of the bridge, needed to ensure that the bridge was in full working order for the 2011 centenary celebrations of its construction. Major maintenance work to the bridge’s engineering was required as part of the refurbishment process.

This was no simple task – as well as completing the maintenance work to the highest quality and safety standards, it was essential that the work on the heritage site retained the bridge’s iconic engineering.

Middlesbrough Council chose to work with us for a number of reasons, including:

  • Our proven ability to successfully deliver a multi-faceted electro-mechanical approach;
  • The business’ flexibility and ability to deliver to the specific needs of the project; and
  • The team’s knowledge and experience, and reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.

A Bespoke Solution

In order that the bridge would be ready in time for the centenary celebrations, we carried out a series of major refurbishment projects on the Bridge’s electric motors as part of a £150,000 contract. We have treated the project with the recognition and consideration befitting major refurbishment work on an important heritage site. The Transporter bridge was shut in May 2010 to allow for the replacement of the original electric motors and drive system with new machinery. Our team designed a bespoke solution that would retain the iconic engineering of the site, whilst ensuring that the bridge will continue to work smoothly and efficiently for decades to come.

Motor Overhaul

We advised that a mechanical drive solution would deliver the best results, and the installation of this system has enabled the bridge’s existing listed drive to remain in its entirety with only the need to disconnect the coupling bolts on both motor couplings. The majority of the work was completed off site at our Middlesbrough facility, ensuring a swift, high quality and safe operation. The motors supplied and installed by us are 3- off 45 kW 4- pole machines (two to be operational and one as a spare) from WEG’s W22 high efficiency range. They are equipped with 1024 PPR encoders and are controlled by two WEG CFW-11 inverters. Overall, this package provides fast, precise control with high levels of energy efficiency, helping to reduce the operating costs of the bridge.

The work that we undertook on the Tees Transporter Bridge has delivered a number of important benefits:

  • Improving the structure’s reliability and safety
  • Ensuring that the time the bridge will need to be closed for routine maintenance in the future will be significantly reduced
  • Providing fast, precise control
  • Improving energy efficiency, helping to reduce the operating costs of the bridge as well as improving its environmental impact;
  • Enabling the bridge to be operated safely in higher wind speeds than previously possible, increasing still further the value of the bridge as a part of the North Yorkshire transport network.

Councillor Paul Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Streetscene Services and Transport, said: “The Transporter is an iconic landmark which is recognised around the world, and of which we are truly proud. The efforts and expertise of companies like Deritend will ensure that it is still up and running in another 100 years.”

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