Alex Jarvis and her family photographs of the 75th Anniversary of Newport Transporter Bridge in 1981

 Alex Jarvis and her family photographs of the 75th Anniversary of Newport Transporter Bridge in 1981

Stunt Biplanes pass under Newport's Transporter Bridge to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the bridge.

Newport Borough Council, as it was known in 1981, planned a 75th Anniversary of the opening of the Transporter Bridge which had taken place on September 12th 1906. They had several events planned. There was a horse and carriage procession from the Mansion House to the bridge carrying mayor Les Knight and other dignitaries. They travelled through Newport to the Bridge where a re-enactment of the opening was provided by Newport Playgoers. Trevor Jones played the part of Lord Tredegar who had switched on the current for the electrically operated bridge on the opening day. But something that really excited the public in 1981 was a dare devil birthday salute via aeroplane. Two stunt pilots made aviation history by swooping under the supports of the Transporter Bridge and thousands of spectators lined both banks of the Usk to see this take place. Mr Alf Ropke, the Director of Leisure Services, stated that planes had flown under the bridge before but never legally and certainly their illegal stunts were not witnessed by vast crowds. The two pilots on this occasion were Marcus Edwards and John McLean and official permission was obtained from the Civil Aviation Authority.

 Newport’s librarian Alex Jarvis is well known to us all and tells us that her parents were just two of the people who went to see the event and took photographs for their family album. They went with Alex's aunt and uncle who also appear in some of the photographs. Alex was away studying in Manchester otherwise she would have been there as well. Below you can see some of the pictures her parents took on the day experiencing the thrill when the two biplanes passed under the bridge and between the two supports. 


    On the right you can see Alex's parents, a picture 

taken by her uncle or aunt who accompanied  her parents 

on that special day.  Below is her mother with Alex's


The crowd certainly were given a good show. The pilots made three planned swoops, one in double formation through the 592 ft gap and then they came back and did 6 more. The South Wales Argus stated that ‘each [was] more daring than the last’. Pilot Peter Edwards stated that bends in the river made the approach to the bridge difficult and there was the need to avoid the high powered electrical cables that spanned the river close to the bridge.

 The Transporter Bridge is closed at the moment due to the construction of the new Visitors' Centre but this memory shows how important this bridge has been to us all over a long period of time. The opening of the visitors' centre will be the next major celebration.


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