New book will celebrate Teesside’s bridge building heritage

Unseen Sydney Harbour Bridge construction photographs and historic plans for some of the world’s most famous bridges are to feature in a new book celebrating Teesside’s bridge building heritage.

Bridging the World by Dr Tosh Warwick, to be published next year by Heritage Unlocked, explores the role Tees Valley bridge building firms such as Cleveland Bridge, Dorman Long and Teesside Bridge have played in constructing, designing and restoring landmark bridges around the world.

The new book will tell the story of the area’s role in creating international icons such as Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bosphorus Bridge and Victoria Falls Bridge, as well as North-East landmarks including the Tees Transporter Bridge and Tyne Bridge.

The Middlesbrough-born historian’s latest publication will also feature blueprints, photographs, company records, newspaper reports and oral histories from archives around the world, including Teesside Archives’ British Steel Collection and oral histories.

As part of the project, the Heritage Unlocked consultant and Manchester Metropolitan University research associate is keen to capture bridge-related memories and stories from bridge builders, steelworkers and members of the public.

Bridging the World is inspired by Dr Warwick’s long-term research on the region’s bridge building and steel history.

He has previously curated a Bridging the World exhibition at the Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre, helped develop a Bridging the World interactive touchscreen as part of the National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience, completed a PhD on Dorman Long steel magnates in collaboration with the British Steel Archive Project, and authored books and articles on the River Tees, Tees Newport Bridge and Tees Transporter Bridge.

He has also appeared on BBC’s Inside Out, Match of the Day and Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys as an expert contributor on Teesside’s steel and bridge building heritage.

As well as the new book, Dr Warwick is working on a proposal for a Bridging the World exhibition, which he hopes will feature original plans and photos celebrating Teesside’s bridge building heritage.

The project comes at a time when there is renewed interest in the area’s iron and steel heritage following the announcement of the planned regeneration of the former Teesside Steelworks and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen’s call for public suggestions on how the region’s iron and steel history should be marked.

Dr Warwick said: “Firms such as Cleveland Bridge and Dorman Long have played a pivotal role in the design and construction of famous bridges that have become national landmarks and continue to connect communities across the globe today.

“Teesside’s historic and modern-day role in bridge building is a source of pride for thousands of people and the renewed interest in our area’s steel heritage has underlined the importance attached to this important part of our story.”

The Heritage Unlocked consultant, who has recently toured Scotland’s bridges with Tees Valley connections as part of research for the book, added: “Bridging the World will bring together the largest collection of previously unpublished photographs and plans of bridges from the fantastic collections of Teesside Archives alongside material from collections across the globe.

“By appealing for memories inspired by Teesside’s bridge building heritage, whether that be a family connection to a famous bridge or discovering Dorman Long steel in a structure in a far-flung part of the world, Bridging the World will provide new perspectives on our area’s bridge building heritage and help record these memories for future generations.”

Our image shows the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the front cover of the forthcoming book, Bridging the World. Credit: Teesside Archives, British Steel Collection and Ben Higgins Design).