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Festival Preparation in Full Swing

21st July 2011

Categories: Latest News

Preparations for the inaugural NewcastleGateshead Bridges festival was set into motion this morning as the Swing Bridge ‘swung’ into action for the first time after undergoing maintenance and repair work.

The trial ‘swing’ took place at 11:00am (Thursday 21 July) as NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the team behind NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival, cement plans to transform the bridge for the festival weekend, which takes place on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 August.

The test swing was undertaken by Port of Tyne who own and manage the Swing Bridge and are sponsoring NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival as part of their commitment to arts, business and communities.

The Swing Bridge, designed by William Armstrong and opened in 1876, will be given a horticultural makeover into Armstrong’s Lost Garden with Lost and Found by Julia Barton and Beacon North East.

Carol Bell, head of culture and major events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative said: “The Swing Bridge is a truly iconic part of the NewcastleGateshead riverscape. The transformation into Armstrong’s lost Garden will allow visitors to discover another element of Armstrong’s creative brilliance – his formal garden’s which are more usually experienced in the grounds of his rural retreat at Cragside.”  

Andrew Moffat, chief executive officer, Port of Tyne says: “The Port of Tyne is delighted to be sponsoring the Bridges Festival. And is proud that the Swing Bridge will be a focal point of the festival, as a busy thriving Port we also have a responsibility to business and communities and we hope this will bring people to the quayside to support the businesses there.”

Artist Julia Barton has worked with community groups from across NewcastleGateshead to transform this usually busy urban crossing into a tranquil green space. The greening will bring the classical formal paths and planting of a garden fit for Cragside to the busy urban centre.

NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival celebrates the history, heritage and contemporary culture of the NewcastleGateshead quayside, the River Tyne and the seven bridges which connect the two. It is also sponsored by NE1 Ltd, the Business Improvement District Company, as part of its Alive After Five initiative.

Carol Bell added: “We will use the natural amphitheatre of the quayside to create an exciting two days of free performance, exploration, art installations, workshops and a truly spectacular evening event on Saturday 13 August.

“NewcastleGateshead’s bridges have helped define the city over the past 160 years and through this festival we want people to reconnect with these icons and celebrate the distinctive riverside location of NewcastleGateshead.”

The first ever NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival takes place on Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 August 2011.  Details of the full weekend programme will be published on the NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival website – - in August.


Media Contact
Shelley Staines, Media & PR Manager, NewcastleGateshead Initiative
T. 0191 440 5739 E.

Notes to Editors

• NewcastleGatshead Bridges Festival is developed and produced by NewcastleGateshead Initiative as part of its innovative and distinctive festivals and events programme.

• NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival is sponsored by NE1 Ltd, the Business Improvement District Company, as part of its Alive After Five initiative ( and by the Port of Tyne ( as part of its commitment to the arts, business and communities.

• NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival is funded by Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council and Northern Rock Foundation

• NewcastleGateshead Initiative thanks our partners, EasyJet and media partners Metro Radio and ncjMedia

• The Port of Tyne in North East England is one of the UK's major deep sea ports - a vital trading gateway to Europe and beyond

• Investment of over £100m in the past 10 years has created the infrastructure to deliver continued growth of the Port's diverse businesses. These include conventional and bulk cargoes, car terminals, cruise and ferries, logistics and commercial property

• In 2010 the Port of Tyne contributed £427million to the regional economy and supported 9,000 jobs

• NewcastleGateshead Initiative is the destination marketing agency for NewcastleGateshead. Its mission is to position and promote NewcastleGateshead as a leading destination for leisure and business visitors through cultural programming, event bidding and high-profile, targeted destination marketing and PR activity.  Created in 2000 by Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Council as a publicly and privately funded business, NewcastleGateshead Initiative has developed a strong brand for the area - promoting it nationally and internationally as a place at the forefront of innovative culture-led regeneration and a world-class place to live, learn, work and visit.

• United by seven bridges across a spectacular riverscape, Newcastle (a city on the north bank of the River Tyne) and Gateshead (a town on the south bank) form a single, diverse and extremely vibrant visitor destination. World-class culture, vibrant nightlife, award-winning dining, inspiring heritage, fantastic shopping and acclaimed architecture are combined here like nowhere else, by the famous Geordie spirit which is symbolised by Antony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North as it welcomes travellers to the area.

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