Message from the Chairman
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?)
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.
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.
The August Bank Holiday Fun day was a washout but the
Edwardian Day on September 28th was a success, partly because
of the St David's Zip Slide. Many thanks to all who came and
to the volunteers who worked so hard on both days.
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
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
Our next Fun Day will be on the Sunday September 28th and
have an Edwardian theme. This will also be the last day of
operation of the Bridge this year.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.