Fitters on Transporter Bridge July 2018

Here are Ray Branson and Brian Dodds, who is in the shadow and is wearing a cap. They are the two fitters who are called in when minor repairs on the Transporter Bridge are needed. We happened to catch them soon after they had done one of their jobs. I am in the middle of the group. Another couple of pictures shows them talking to Tony Barber from the Newcomen Society about what they had been doing.

Photographs and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

10 thoughts on “Fitters on Transporter Bridge July 2018

  1. This is correct. When arranging the Newcomen Society visits to the Bridges I had to approach Stockton Corporation about the Newport Bridge.. Laura, at Picture Stockton, gave me some helpful hints. In the case of the Transporter, which is run by Middlesbrough, it was easier as all we had to do was meet up with the people who actually run the bridge and the associated display.


  2. For many years the Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough, was always painted with red-oxide paint, it was a lovely colour and heavily used all over the UK, including the re-painting of the Forth Bridge. I am certain that if it was put too a vote – red-oxide coloured paint would still be the number one choice for the majority of Teessiders?


    • Dear Bob

      The paint would have been red lead, which experience has shown is excellent in protecting mild steels, especially in the days when the mill scale from rolling was not removed by grit blasting. Unfortunately the lead content makes the paint a health risk to the painters, especially when brushing off old paint.

      The new paints have a much longer life, with no repainting being needed for may be 20 years. As Frank Mee might tell you, although progress might seem to have a downside, focus on the upside!.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fred is correct, metal was not descaled as sand blasting needed special cabinets Wartime and long after did not allow for this so all plate sections beams etc. would be Red Leaded and often us apprentices had to help the labourers doing the painting to get it out on site.
        Pipe work we rolled so it did descale the plate as we rolled it and then we used Red Oxide still not a pleasant job and it did not last as long as Red Lead.
        As we came to learn years later painting with such materials was bad for your health along with knocking lagging off pipes to fit branches, it was known about but needs must so do not tell the people doing the job they might refuse. Many suffered years later and it caused death for others.
        Thinking back, walking the steel, unguarded machines, welding without air masks, overhead cranes travelling above workstations, poor maintenance of equipment it is a wonder any of us are still here.


      • Health Risks associated with red rust paint. I was unaware of the health risks associated with red lead paint, so must apologise to Fred & Frank for this, but (on Teesside there’s always a ‘but’ – this being an odd mannerism which gives men from the North Riding of Yorkshire, a worldwide reputation of being awkward “Butt-ers”) but, can’t this modern blue paint be tinted Red-Rust instead of blue? The only drawback I knew with using red rust paint concerned a certain Cannon Street uncle of mine, who was forever borrowing the odd-drum of paint when he worked on the bridge. It was his liberty he was worried about – not his lungs?


        • Bob those of us with long memories will tell you the blue is the colour Middlesbrough chose as its corporate colour many years ago. It is most probably a reversion to that corporate image.
          In my early years Stockton Corporation was Red as were the buses and wagons, Middlesbrough were Blue, Stockton being a dark red and United bus service a light red. Some time into the future we would become Teesside and they would mix Blue with Red making a ghastly green for both corporation bus services until privatisation brought us a multi colour go faster striped bus, Train, set of services that did not go faster or further or as often if at all.
          I talk of a time working on the bus services was a trade well paid with good pensions smart uniforms and pleasant people the Ducks as we called them waking us up as we got on the bus at Norton Green either for school or work and keeping us entertained as they called out the stops.
          The last time I was on a bus the driver went off on the wrong route until amid shouts from the passengers he was brought to a halt then decided to make a new route as according to him he could not turn the bus where we were, that would never have happened in the good old days.
          Paint can be mixed in any colour and the same long lasting paint on the Forth Bridge is red. The new way of fixing a light show that changes colour makes me think they should paint it white then show adverts, just a thought, they may as well upset all the people instead of only half of them.


    • I don’t remember it being any other colour than blue. Sorry Bob it’s probably an age thing, so the result of a vote might depend on which age group is in the majority 🙂
      Can’t see it ever changing now it’s a celebrity in it’s own right.


  3. When I worked at Head Wrightson Machine Co. on Commercial Street I used to cycle there from Billingham. Sometimes the Tranny had broken down so we carried our bikes up the stairs, cycled across the top, then carried them back down the other side. I wonder if I could manage that today.


    • I think the Transporter and Newport bridges are owned by both SoT and M’boro councils? SoT operates the Newport bridge and M’boro operates the Transporter.


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