A Sad Failure for ‘An Ambition for North Shields’
13th January 2023
In the space of a few months we’re seeing the likely destruction of a SECOND heritage bridge in North Shields.
As with the last one, the official reason for pulling down the Borough Road Bridge, is because it’s getting a bit old, while funds are not available to preserve it. The irony being that the Council are spending money like there’s no tomorrow on their vaunted ‘Ambition for North Shields’ elsewhere in the town.
The Borough Road Bridge is not just a fine piece of engineering, it is a key pedestrian route linking the town across the man-made gradient known as the Borough Road Cut, aka ‘Heart Attack Bank’. This road was cut into the bank in order to get people and later, trams, down to the ferry landing from the upper town. The first bridge was built in the 1850s to span this gorge and reestablish the right of way that went through there. Both the road and the bridge are a legacy of a time when the needs of the residents came first in North Shields.
Are the Council really just going to cut off one community from the rest of Shields? Of course they are, because there is valuable land for flat-building on either side of the bank. Upscale apartment building has for some time been North Tyneside Council’s grand strategy for the town’s development. It typifies their lack of imagination and their skewed priorities in operating a closed shop of qualified bidders to whom they can grant development projects.
If the Borough Road Bridge was anywhere else in the country, it would have been restored years ago. No one is buying the cost argument, that £360,000 can’t be found, when millions are being spent to beautify the town centre, much of it questionably. The key question is though, why isn’t the bridge part of Ambition for North Shields?
As well as being architecturally important, it is a vital footpath at a time when the pedestrianisation of urban areas is being encouraged everywhere. Instead, it is being pulled down for scrap because in North Shields the residents come second to Council planning initiatives, unaffordable housing and vanity projects.
Join the demonstration at 9:30am on Tuesday 17th January outside the registry office, where the public enquiry is taking place.