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Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge (FONTB)


The Transporter Bridge is now closed for the winter

The volunteer-run Visitor Centre will be open whenever possible

Annual General Meeting Friday 27 November

Full Details of opening times and charges


The Newport Transporter Bridge spans the River Usk in Newport, South Wales and is a Grade 1 Listed Structure. Its historic importance stems from its very unusual design. There are only two others like it in the UK and seven in the World. It is owned and run by Newport City Council and celebrated its centenary in September 2006.

Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge (FONTB) is a registered Charity founded in 1998 and dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the Bridge. .

Our activities include running the Visitor Centre, publishing a regular Newsletter for members, organising visits to the Bridge for clubs, schools and other groups and giving presentations about the Bridge. We work in partnership with other charities during their fundraising events at the Bridge and also maintain an archive and this website.



Annual General Meeting

All members and non-members are invited to the Annual General Meeting at 6pm on Friday November 27th at St Joseph's RC High School, Pencarn Way, Newport NP10 8XH (between ASDA and Tredegar House). Refreshments will be served and our guest speaker will be Paul Flynn MP who is a Vice President of the Friends.

Fun Day Sunday 27th September

This was the last day the Bridge was open this year. Our Funday had an Edwardian theme and featured the Full Moon Morris Dancers

Here is a Video of them performing

Cardiff Boys Brigade

On Wednesday 8th July, FONTB were invited to an awards evening arranged by the 16th Cardiff Boys’ Brigade at The Church Of The Resurrection at St Mellons, Cardiff. Mo Hendon and Rob Reese attended representing FONTB. The 16th had made FONTB their chosen local charity for 2014-15. The Brigade’s charity choice alternates annually between an international and UK cause. Money was raised by a sponsored walk starting from Cardiff Castle to Forest Farm and Castle Coch by the following brigade members :-

Anchors (school year 1-3)

Juniors (school year 4-6)

Company (school years 7-11)

Seniors (aged 15-18) and officers 

The rest of the money was raised from a free-will offering at the Annual Enrolment Service and from a Lent Collection when the younger members were given Smartie tubes. They could eat the Smarties and then they had to fill the empty tube with their pocket money!.

We were delighted to be presented with a cheque for the fantastic amount of £400 by Alex Rees - Williams from the Juniors! A wonderful effort from all the boys.


We are looking to produce a calendar for 2016 and would like to encourage supporters to submit pictures of the bridge across the seasons for consideration.  Pictures should be submitted by 31st August 2015 and be sent to with the words "FONTB Calendar" in the title.

Message from the Chairman

With the exception of closing the AGM, this is my first official action as FONTB Chairman. Hopefully you will all, ‘Give me just a little more time’ to settle into the role.(Anyone get the musical reference?) 

Becoming Chairman after less than a year with FONTB does seem a little premature, even to me, but I hope that my years of involvement with Round Table in Abergavenny and Newport and as South Wales Area Chairman will help with fund raising, publicity and the other works of this voluntary organisation.I do not have a history in engineering, or am otherwise active in local history, but I am an almost lifelong resident of Newport and as such want Newport to do well and prosper. The symbol of our successful past is the Transporter Bridge and I’d like it to be a symbol of our successful future as well.

In my first year with FONTB I aimed to try to improve the Visitor Centre as it currently stands, and this is an ongoing process, and I do look forward to the proposals of expanding and extending the Visitor Centre. These are very early days of that process and when the plans are more firmly developed we will make them available for any feedback.

As we are still in a period of economic uncertainty, we have to accept that running the Bridge is a luxury for the Council and I call upon all members to be as active as they can be with our role of supporting the Bridge, and it’s activities, to attract as many visitors as possible.

In this run up to Christmas, I would like to encourage you all to attend the first, ‘Carols on the Bridge’ on Sunday 14th December between 2 and 4pm. There will be music and singing from the Gwent Music Support Group and refreshments will be available to buy (we need the funds).

As we start this next year of FONTB, let me look backwards one last time and thank everyone on the Committee for making me so welcome since I joined. I’d particularly like to thank David who, as now immediate past Chairman, has given me a very hard act to follow and Treasurer Bob Richards for inviting me to join. Also I’d like to thank all the volunteers who run the Visitor Centre, arrange and give the talks and organise the Fun Days as well as those who keep the FONTB wheels turning.

To all volunteers and members, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and successful New Year.

Carols on the Bridge

Youngsters from the Gwent Music Support Group provided the music for an afternoon of carol singing on the Bridge on Sunday December 14th. Our Secretary David Hando said "It's been a wet, cold and miserable day with the weather but despite that the group have been merrily playing and everybody has been joining in. It's just to publicise the bridge and the wonderful, iconic architectural structure we are so lucky to have here".

Newport councillor Noel Trigg and Newport West MP Paul Flynn were amongst the visitors. Fanny's Rest stop cafe, just across the road from the Bridge, provided hot drinks throughout the afternoon and money from a collection taken will go towards the Gwent Music Support Group.

Annual General Meeting

The 16th Annual General Meeting was held on Friday 21st November at 7.30pm in Room 7 at Newport Civic Centre. Nick Mutch was elected Chairman and David Hando Secretary. Three new Trustees were also elected.


To our President Rosemary Butler AM who has been created a Dame of the British Empire, also to Barbara Bennett, Anne Gatehouse and Win Lewis who were elected Vice Presidents of the Friends in recognition of their services over the years.


We were grateful to our Treasurer Bob Richards for organising through the Office for National Statistics for volunteers from MITIE to repaint the Visitor Centre. It is now much lighter and brighter.


Because of illness we are short of volunteers at the Visitor Centre, If anyone can spare half a day a week, please contact  David Hando by email or on 07802 487042


We are planning to publish a calendar made up of photographs of the Bridge at different times of the year. Please email any photographs you would like to be considered to our Journal Editor Tony Dart.


The Transporter Bridge has been awarded a Certificate of Excellent from TripAdvisor after receiving top ratings from visitors.


We are hoping to get start billing on the Newport version of the popular board game planned for a launch to catch the Christmas trade. Over 7000 people voted fot the Bridge to be included on the board. Dan Taylor, the development director of Winning Moves UK, who produce Monopoly on licence from the the owners Hasbro, climbed the Bridge and marvelled at the views.

Heritage Bid

Representatives of the three British Transporter Bridges held a second meeting with Rolf Hoehmann of the Bureau of Industrial Archaeology to progress an international, serial application to UNESCO for World Heritage Status for the world’s surviving Transporter Bridges.

Of the eighteen Transporter Bridges built between 1893 and 1916 eight remain. They are Rochford in France, Osten and Rendesburg in Germany, Buenos Aires in Argentina and the three British Bridges, Newport, Middlesbrough and Warrington. Bilbao in Spain already has Heritage Status.

This second meeting, held at the Bridge Visitor Centre at Middlesbrough, was a follow up to the Celtic Manor conference held this time last year. Newport was represented by the Chairman of the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge, Councillor David Hando and Mike Lewis of the Newport Museum Service. The British bridges handed over bid material to Rolf, whose next visit is to Buenos Aires.

Rolf gave an up date on developments at the French, German and Argentinian bridges. He said that, although there was a long waiting list for Heritage Status, European medieval churches and castles were over represented. That gave an advantage to an international, serial application involving 20th century industrial archaeology. Nevertheless it would be a long process.

Meetings would be arranged in September with Cadw at Newport and English Heritage at Middlesborough.

Pctured below at the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge are (l to r) Mike Lewis, Rolf Hoehmann and David Hando





Sidney Robinson


We are sorry to have to announce the death of founder member, former Chairman and Life Vice-President Sidney Robinson on 19 January at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. Trustee Anne Gatehouse writes:

Sidney was born in Newport on 28th November 1914. He spent his working life in the shipping industry in Newport and Bristol. He had an amazing capacity for facts and his memory was phenomenal. He could walk into a building in Newport and tell you the history of it.

He was a founder member of FONTB and served as Vice Chairman and three years as Chairman, seeing us through the Centenary year of our Bridge. He supported all our events, on the Open Days still going ‘over the top’ into his nineties, he also helped me with many of the talks and was always ready with answers and information for the audience. He was so thrilled to receive a certificate for his chairmanship and later, when we made him a Vice President, he received another one. Both certificates had pride of place on the wall of his flat in Penarth which he kept immaculate.

Whatever I asked him for with regards to Newport and the Transporter Bridge, their history and heritage he always had the answer. Some times producing long explanations either written or typed, nothing was too much for him and his wealth of knowledge was amazing. I was so pleased that I set up a meeting, in my home, between Sidney and Professor Alan Jones, which resulted in the book ‘The River Usk’.

Sidney had many other interests in Newport, Penarth and Cardiff and belonged to many organisations. The main ones being The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, Newport Civic Society, Both Penarth and Cardiff History Societies and the Victorian Society. He always travelled by public transport sometimes not arriving home until midnight. Sidney nursed his wife for many years and when she passed away a few years ago he was proud to take her to Christchurch Cemetery via The Newport Transporter Bridge

I am proud to have known him and call him my Friend.

Anne Gatehouse
FONTB & Newport Civic Society


The Penarth Times carried an obituary on 30 January .

Sidney’s funeral took place on Wednesday 8 February and many of the Committee and some other members gathered at the Bridge to witness his last journey on the gondola, pictured below.











© FONTB (Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge) - Registered Charity No. 1102925