Kingsgate Footbridge
Bridge Durham County Durham

Kingsgate Footbridge

Bridge In Durham, County Durham

Modernist footbridge completed without using scaffolding in 1963

If in the city of Durham, you may be aware of parking along New/Old Elvet Street area, then walking alongside Dunelm House and across the footbridge over the River Wear to go up steps to Bow Lane and on to Durham Cathedral.

That crossing is Kingsgate Footbridge, marmite to some, as it is a modernist construction.

Designed and constructed by Sir Ove Nyquist Arup,(1895 -1988). The bust on the New Elvet side commemorates him. Would you believe that the bust was stolen in 2006! It has now been replaced, although some say it looks like Eric Morecambe or that bloke from 'It'll be Alright on the Night' fame.

Ove Arup was born to Danish and Norwegian parents in Newcastle. I wonder what his accent was like?! He studied Philosophy and then an Engineering degree specialising in concrete. Not the most sexyist of subjects, but wait and see what he was a design engineer for.

The Kingsgate Bridge was completed in 1963 and was the first Bridge that Mr Arup designed and constructed completely with the integration of architecture and engineering, not so common at the time. Ove's vision was that Kingsgate was striking and was proud of this accomplishment such that he requested his ashes to be scattered from it after his death.

The actual construction of Kingsgate is unusual, there was no scaffolding required as the bridge was cast in two halves. The halves were on each bank and swivelled out to meet in the middle of the River Wear. They pivoted on revolving cones with bearings designed to accommodate this. Be sure to look out for the bronze expansion joint in the middle.

So, Sir Ove Arup was design engineer for The Sydney Opera House, started in 1957 and completed 16 years later. He was considered to be the Godfather of Total Architecture. You can also blame him for Dunelm House adjacent the Kingsgate Bridge.

Ove had a couple of foibles: He played the accordion badly and carried purpose-made chopsticks which were longer than normal so he could poach food!

This is a rather nice retro photo overlooking the Bridge taken by John Robert Emmett of a colleague John Birt of Grey College.

For all you romantics, here's a photo of the bridge at night.

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54.773138, -1.572648

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On street parking available in the area.

Contributed by Rosalind Parker

Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.

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