A TRUE icon of the North East, the image of the Tyne Bridge has become synonymous with Newcastle.
From the moment the first foundations were laid in July 1925, the Tyne Bridge has been caught on film.
And its arch has been constantly captured, copied and recreated over the past 85 years.
Construction firm Dorman Long commissioned a series of photographs as they started the building work.
Step by step, the photographs show the bridge reaching out from each side of the river until the arch met on February 25, 1928.
In recent years those images – showing the “monkey men” workers perched high above the city’s skyscape – were exhibited at the Side Gallery in Newcastle.
Graeme Rigby, of the Amber Film and Photography Collective who run the gallery, said it is believed the pictures were commissioned to demonstrate Dorman Long’s building capabilities across the globe.
“They were taken by a professional photographer in Newcastle,” he said. “They are an example of very fine industrial photography, which was once a very strong tradition in photography.
“We don’t think they were exhibited at the time but were commissioned by the manufacturer to sell more bridges around the world.”
However, some photos were sold – Tyne and Wear Archives hold a series of postcards showing the bridge building between 1925 and 1928.
Dorman Long also produced a promotional film about the building project, while King George V’s speech to open the bridge was recorded in what was his first “talkie”.
Ever since, professional and amateur photographers alike have captured the Tyne Bridge in every season and at every time of day.
Last year, Royal Mail chose a photograph of the bridge as part of its A-Z stamp series of the UK’s landmarks.
But they came in for a slating as the first class stamps used an out-of-date image showing the now-defunct Tuxedo Princess boat moored up on the Quayside.
Film-makers too have always appreciated the Tyne Bridge as a backdrop, with its image appearing in everything from Michael Caine’s gangster flick Get Carter in 1971 to MTV’s controversial reality show Geordie Shore.
The final episode of 1996 drama series Our Friends in the North sees George “Geordie” Peacock, played by Bond star Daniel Craig, heading off into the distance over the bridge.
And scenes for Newcastle-set police drama Vera have also been filmed there.
But one of the most famous film clips of the bridge was an amateur one, which went worldwide after being filmed last year.
A 20-second video of lightning hitting the structure as storms rocked the city was captured by Marc Burton, 20, on his phone.
He was filming from pal Paul Sommerville’s flat at 55 Degrees North on the Swan House Roundabout. Paul, 25, said: “It’s just insane. We put it on YouTube and it had thousands of views within an hour.”
In 2010, Gateshead Council built a second Tyne Bridge, as part of their silver medal- winning entry into the Chelsea Flower Show.
The replica was planted with violas designed to mirror the 55,000 runners pounding their way across the river in that year’s 30th anniversary Great North Run, and it later went on show in the borough’s Saltwell Park.
Also that year, bakers created a bridge out of cake as part of Newcastle and Gateshead’s Eat! festival.
It followed on from a project in 2003 which saw 3D design students at Newcastle College build a bridge model from pretzels which went on display in the Baltic art gallery’s restaurant. And in 2008, a bamboo suspension bridge was built on the Quayside to mark the 80th anniversary of the bridge.
Using 800 bamboo poles to span the Tyne, it was 120m long and 25m high and stood for three days, but was not accessible to the public.
V To celebrate 85 years of the Tyne Bridge we are running a special week-long series of stories and we want to hear your memories of the bridge. Call Joanne Butcher on 0191 201 6455 or email joanne.butcher@ncjmedia. co.uk
V Go to www. chroniclelive.co.uk/ tynebridge to see more stories and photographs of the bridge, or, to buy one from our vast archives, visit www.chroniclelive. co.uk/buyaphoto
V TOMORROW: How the Tyne Bridge became a sporting icon