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Photo-a-day 288: Millennium rainbow

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This is a picture I took earlier in the week of the Millennium Bridge lit up, as it is every night, in its rainbow-like colour scheme. The current lighting system was installed in 2009, and is LED based for super energy efficiency.

It’s the (first, second, third, fourth) fifth time I’ve featured the bridge this year, so you may be bored of seeing it by now…! In my own defence, this is the first night-time shot of it!

This 1,849th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , , .

Photo-a-day 236: High Level Bridge

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This is one of the footpaths on the High Level Bridge linking Newcastle and Gateshead. The top deck of the High Level Bridge carries trains, whilst pedestrians and road traffic cross on the lower deck. It was opened by Queen Victoria herself, and if you’re wondering about the dates and designers, this plaque might help:

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The bridge was the world’s first major wrought iron tied-arch design, and spans 1,337 feet across six spans. During the Great Fire of Newcastle and Gateshead in 1854, it’s said that the bridge “vibrated like a thin wire”.

One has to wonder whether these not-so-good vibrations caused the first flaws in the ironwork that developed to severe cracks found when the bridge was due for restoration in 2005. These led to the bridge being closed for three years, and road traffic now being restricted to only taxis and buses in a single direction.

In the first year after it re-opened, though, some 32,000 drivers – my dad and brother included – ignored these restrictions. Perhaps, like dad and Glenn, all of them got lost and confused, ended up at the entrance to the bridge before they knew it, and were unable to turn round!

In response, Northumbria Police launched a crackdown, and fined over 1,000 drivers £30 in a few short weeks. Electronic registration number capturing monitoring equipment now automatically issues fines to anyone who breaks the rules.

This 1,777th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , , .

Photo-a-day 225: Hownsgill Viaduct

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This is the Hownsgill Viaduct. It’s 55m high, and a little over 200m long. It used to carry the Stanhope & Tyne Railway, but these days carries only the C2C cycle route. Construction was completed in 1858 to Sir Thomas Bouch’s design.

Bouch would later go on to design the Tay Bridge, which collapsed in use. Seventy-five people were killed, and Bouch’s reputation and career were left in tatters. Whilst the Hownsgill Viaduct is still standing, its fate has become almost as grim: it’s one of the UK’s suicide hotspots. In 2011, there was a death every two weeks. In response, Durham County Council is arranging the construction of a 3m high steel tube and cable fence.

Suicide barriers are a knotty public health issue: whilst they seem logically sound, it’s difficult to come up with strong evidence of their effectiveness. The most famous study in this area (and one which came up in my Part A MFPH, as it happens) is of the Bloor Street Viaduct in Toronto – where, actually, fewer suicides occurred each year than at Hownsgill. The study suggests that whilst the Luminous Veil barrier prevented suicides from the viaduct itself, it had no impact on the suicide rate as a whole. Of course, study design is a huge problem in this field, but it remains the case that no published study has shown a reduction in the overall suicide rate as a result of the erection of a barrier.

I guess the only thing we know for certain is that suicide is better tackled through comprehensive and wide-ranging suicide prevention programmes rather than through barriers alone. Psychiatry services often suffer when healthcare resources are tight; yet the biggest cause of death in British men under the age of 35 is suicide. Let’s hope that the vital work of mental health teams isn’t dismissed by anyone as “easy pickings” in the ongoing recession.

This 1,763rd post was filed under: Health, Photo-a-day 2012, , , , .

Photo-a-day 224: Ouseburn spectacular!

Over the course of this photographic year, I’ve featured lots of bits of the Ouseburn, a local river that runs from its source, near Newcastle airport, to the Tyne, near the famous Quayside. It also passes fairly near my house.

I’ve featured it so many times now that I know it’s become a groan-worthy subject for some: Wendy included! But today, I wanted to show you the Ouseburn at Ouseburn: the point at which the river flows through its namesake part of Newcastle, in the Ouseburn Valley. This is it flowing under the huge Byker Bridge:

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The Byker Bridge was opened in 1878, and, in something resembling current Government policy, its construction was funded by a toll charged for use until 1895. It was designed by Robert Hodgson, who was better known for his rail bridges. It is built entirely of brick, and is almost 100ft tall and over 1000 feet long. This picture gives a better sense of scale:

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Perhaps the more interesting construction which lies almost alongside Byker Bridge is the Ouseburn Viaduct, which carries the East Coast Mainline. It was – remarkably – originally a timber construction built in 1839. Thirty years later, the timber was switched to iron. Unfortunately, the viaduct is currently undergoing a £10m restoration, and so all that can be seen today is a web of scaffolding:

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I’ll have to visit again when the work is complete… Ouseburn will be back!

This 1,762nd post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , , .

Photo-a-day 207: The Shard

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I forgot my photo-a-day yesterday – oops – so here’s a picture of The Shard that I took earlier in the week. Little-known facts about The Shard include the fact that it’s tall, it’s located in London, and it has a lot of glass on it.

This 1,740th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , .

Photo-a-day 196: Grand Hotel

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This is Newcastle’s former Grand Hotel, built in 1891. I’m not sure when it stopped being a hotel, but it now houses a Health Fayre sandwich shop, a branch of Blackwell’s, a Campus Coffee shop and Newcastle University accommodation.

One interesting conundrum about this building is its location. The road you can see running in front of the shop changes at some point from Percy Street (to the left of this picture) to Barras Bridge (to the right).

The Grand Hotel building is listed by the Council (and the architects’ original plans) as being located at 1-24 Barras Bridge. Yet Health Fayre, Blackwell’s, and Campus Coffee – which are all located within the building – are listed being on Percy Street. However, the Newcastle University accommodation situated above these shops, and whose entrance lies between them, is listed as being on Barras Bridge.

So there’s the intriguing reality of several doors located next to each other on the same side of the same building, with the middle one listed as being on a different street to the others!

I’m glad I’m not a postman!

This 1,723rd post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , .

Photo-a-day 193: Royal Victoria Dock Bridge and Emirates Airline

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A few days ago, I mentioned the Royal Victoria Docks Bridge – and since I’m in London today, I thought I’d share a picture of it. As I said, it was built with the capability of running as a transporter bridge like the one in Middlesbrough, but this facility hasn’t been used.

Just a little way from that bridge is the new Emirates Airline. The consensus amongst Londoners that I know is that this is far more a tourist attraction than a serious transport proposal. As a tourist of sorts, I didn’t want to buck the trend, so I hopped on here, at the station on the North bank:

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And here’s a pretty picture of the venue formerly known as The O2, but which the IOC now insists on us all referring to as the North Greenwich Arena:

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But the most pressing question I had after my brief “flight” was: what’s in the box?

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I assume it’s some sort of emergency equipment, but it’s a pretty small box. Do any of my well-informed readers know what’s in it? I’m intrigued…

This 1,720th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , , .

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