Gateshead Millennium Bridge 2 - The Opening

Although the Gateshead Millennium Bridge arrived on site on 20th November 2000, it would take another 10 months before it was ready for use. On Monday 17th September 2001 it was finally opened to the public. I went along hoping to take a few photos of the event, but found the best view on the Gateshead side was in the queue to cross the river. As a result when a group of the first members of the public were counted off to make the trip, I was number 114 from the Gateshead side, and on reaching the other end of the bridge they even gave me a medal for my short walk. Unfortunately it was a poor day for taking pictures - grey and miserable with intermittent drizzle. I was also too close to the bridge to get it all in one frame, and attempts to stitch my images together not being particularly successful, you just get the bits of the bridge I managed to fit in.

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About 12.45 the final checks are made of the bridge

Across the river on the Newcastle side, a large queue is developing

The queue of people wanting to cross the bridge is much shorter on the Gateshead side

The civic dignitaries gather in Baltic Square ready to cross the bridge

At 1.00pm the civic dignitaries step onto the bridge, led by Mayor of Gateshead Joseph Hattam, Leader of Gateshead Council George Gill, and Millennium Commissioner Judith Donovan

The party proceed along the walkway

The group from Gateshead approach the Newcastle side.

The civic group return with the addition of a Newcastle contingent. The party is led by the Mayors of Gateshead and Newcastle

A number of local schoolchildren also cross the bridge

The rain starts again making a Millennium Bridge umbrella a useful souvenir to have

Joseph Hattam, Mayor of Gateshead shakes hands with Mary Carr, Lord Mayor of Newcastle in Baltic Square for the benefit of a cameraman. Millennium Commissioner Judith Donovan looks on

About 1.30pm the first group of cyclists cross the bridge

At 1.35 a group of children from a local school sing a song called "Meet In The Middle"

At 1.40, Gateshead Council Leader George Gill, together with Gateshead's Millennium Babies are in the control room to raise the bridge.

The bridge starts to open

The bridge is not fully open yet, but a small boat sails beneath it

By 1.45 the bridge is fully open

The civic dignitaries mill around in Baltic Square

The Mayors prepare to greet the first members of the public who will cross the bridge. Beyond them the crowd on Newcastle Quayside continues to grow

At 2.00pm the queue of members of the public is permitted to enter Baltic Square ready to cross the bridge

And away we go - the Gateshead contingent move onto the bridge using the cycle path. We are instructed to keep moving and not to stop and take photos

Joseph Hattam, the Mayor of Gateshead greets those crossing the bridge

The view ahead was mainly people's backs

Looking down the Tyne from the new bridge

The first group of pedestrians from Newcastle pass us near the middle of the bridge

The queue on Newcastle quayside

The crowds on the Quayside with the Bridge behind

Looking back at the crowded bridge from Newcastle quayside

On reaching the Newcastle side they gave me a medal. It reads "I was one of the first people to cross the Gateshead Millennium Bridge Monday, 17 September 2001."

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