The iconic Tees Transporter Bridge was officially opened on 17 October 1911. It is one of only around 30 ever built and is the longest, operational transporter bridge in the world.

Above: A colourised postcard of the Steel River icon in its early days (Source: Teesside Archives)

As the iron and steel industries prospered in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Teesside, the River Tees was a hive of activity with goods shipped across the globe and workers crossing the river to get to work at the chemical, iron and steel works that lined the north bank at Port Clarence and Middlesbrough to the south.


Crossing the busy, tidal Tees on the packed ferries that served the route was a hazardous, uncomfortable experience. Having rejected the proposal of Charles Smith to build an aerial Ferrybridge across the river in the 1870s, in the mid-1900s the Middlesbrough Corporation decided to proceed with the construction of a Transporter Bridge. The innovative design of the bridge, with its moving car or gondola, enabled it to transport goods and passengers across the Tees without the need for long approach roads and without obstructing river traffic as a permanent bridge would.


The Tees Transporter Bridge was officially opened by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. Thousands of people gathered on the streets of the town to catch a glimpse of His Royal Highness before he declared the new crossing open and enjoyed a trip across the river on the gondola. The Prince also enjoyed an excursion on the River Tees accompanied by a number of vessels transporting the great and the good of local society before the Tees Conservancy Commissioners – responsible for managing the river – hosted a banquet at Middlesbrough Town Hall in honour of the Prince’s visit.

Did you know?

One of the ferries used to cross the Tees before the Transporter Bridge was constructed was named Erimus – which is the town’s motto and means ‘we shall be’.

Did you know?

At the opening of the Tees Transporter Bridge one of the passengers on the first crossing had an unfortunate accident when he slipped from the edge of the gondola as it moved out from its docked position. Luckily the gentlemen encountered only a small drop and was helped back on shore by attendees at the event.

Above: The Transporter Bridge's first official trip, 17 October 1911 (Source: Middlesbrough Libraries)
Above: A temporary stand packed with guests during the Transporter Bridge opening ceremony (Source: Middlesbrough Libraries)
Above: A 1913 Tees Conservancy Commissioners depiction of the Tees featuring the new Transporter Bridge (Source: Teesside Archives)

In 1911 Mr T Roddam Dent was busy expanding his operations at Dent’s Wharf. He purchased Messrs Craggs’ Shipyard for the extension of his business and formed the Company of Messrs T Roddam Dent & Son Limited. The shipyard was dismantled and replaced with a new 520-feet long quay, new cranes and additional warehouse accommodation.

Above: In 1911, the new No.3/4 Berths at Dent’s Wharf provided an additional 520 feet of quay. This area is now known as Port of Middlesbrough berth 1 and 2 (Source: Dent’s Wharf Post-war booklet, 1958)