THE LEADER of Newport City Council says “good progress” has been made on building a new multi-million pound visitor centre for the iconic Transporter Bridge, one year after the project began.
The structure is one of the few remaining examples of this type of bridge left in the world and is an instantly recognisable presence on the city skyline.
It is hoped a new visitor centre will attract more tourists to Newport, keen to learn about the city’s industrial heyday, when the raw materials mined in South Wales powered the world.
But it may be more than a year before the first visitors are welcomed to the revamped attraction, after problems with contractors and rising costs delayed the project.
Despite those initial setbacks, council leader Jane Mudd remains upbeat about the impact the visitor centre could have on the city.
She said: “I’m pleased to report the Transporter Bridge visitor centre project is making good progress.
“The bridge is an icon of Newport, a towering reminder of our industrial heritage, one that the council is determined to ensure will remain in place for future generations to enjoy in the same way that previous generations have.”
Cllr Mudd said the new visitor centre was “key to helping us transform the site into a major tourist attraction that will bring visitors to both Newport and the wider south-east region, and allow us to keep the bridge at the heart of Newport’s culture and heritage offer”.
Work began at the site in August 2022, when Cllr Mudd attended a sod-cutting ceremony alongside local politicians and the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge group, which has been instrumental in promoting the landmark as a tourist attraction and heritage site.
The group’s founder, David Hando, died in January 2023.
The city council was then landed with a £2.9 million bill after two contractors hired to build the visitor centre fell into administration. The local authority agreed to stump up the money after the project’s cost rose by nearly £5 million – with lottery heritage funding accounting for the remainder.
The council this week told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the frame of the new building was now in place, and the next phase would be to complete the exterior of the centre before starting work on the interior.
The completed centre, which will be linked to the bridge via a walkway, will “allow us to bring the history of the site to life through showcasing the personal stories of those who designed, built and used the bridge”, a council spokesperson added.
Workers have visited city schools to talk about the project’s significance, and students from Coleg Gwent have made artwork of local wildlife to decorate the hoardings around the construction site, while the project progresses.
It is understood the estimated completion date of the visitor centre is currently late 2024.