…a structure 120m long x 6.7m wide with weight restrictions to enable it to rotate over a river.
On August 13th teams of people worked on the Swing Bridge over the Tyne River to transform the carriageway into ‘Lost & Found’ a pop up garden for the First Bridges Festival www.bridgesfestival.com
Inspiration for the garden came from imagining that Lord Armstrong (the famous industrialist & engineer of the bridge) had created a secret garden, which had been lost and would be now found by residents and visitors of Newcastle & Gateshead over the festival weekend.
The design incorporated wild areas of planting on each of the fixed sections of the bridge, through which pedestrians wandered to enter the hidden formal garden.
Stepping into the formal garden (on the moveable section of the bridge) visitors from both the Gateshead & Newcastle quaysides enjoyed walking around rasied beds creating a potager (beds of decorative & edible plants). Each bed was designed and planted by the community groups using annuals such as Marigolds & lobelia in concentric patterns mixed with alpine plants from Cragside Garden, with vegetables and fruit from local gardens.
Beyond the potager, lawns with a central pathway created a strong vista, punctuated by a central circular area beneath Copola with seating to enjoy the views, specimen planting, to speculate on how it came to be and watch the pedestrians go by.
To either side of the lawns, between the bridge struts, potted conifer trees (from Cragside estate) completed the avenue effect through which the Tyne River and adjacent bridges were viewed.
The ‘Lost & Found’ garden is now committed to the collective memory of thousands of people who walked through or saw the garden from the trains, buses and cars travelling above on the neighbouring high bridges and will hopefully often be recalled.
The transformation of the Swing Bridge into a memorable occassion was made complete at nightfall, by the lighting & firework event that accompanied the rotating of the bridge with the garden upon.
N.B Background influences : Cragside NT garden, Jesmond Dene, formal garden designs of the 20th century, North East allotment heritage, wild gardens, Guerilla gardening
With thanks to all who helped in the tranformation of this bridge into a memorable garden:
Newcastle & Gateshead Initiative & north east england. for commissioning and organising the project & festival.
Bob Milan and BEACON project volunteers, SCAN Guerilla Gardeners, Jill Bennison , Dave Bilton & crew
Community Groups : South Street Primary School Gardening Club, Bill Quay Farm Club, St Chads Church, Comfrey Project, Kenton Sure Start, Westerhope Peace Garden, Nuns Moor Sensory Garden, Wor Hoose Community Project
Ian Walker: Newcastle University ,NCC Jesmond Dene Nursery, Alison Pringle & Ian Fletcher: Cragside Garden National Trust,
Practitioners: A Moesby, B Corbitt, N Marsh, J Purrett
Plants: lent by Heighley Gate, supplied by Cowells, Tom & Joes, Down to Earth and many more Location: Brett Oil
Funded by Lottery/Arts Council England. Gateshead Council. Newcastle City Council. Northern Rock Foundation. Sponsored by: NE1, Get into Newcastle. Alive after Five. Port of Tyne. Easy Jet. Media Partners ncj Media . Metro radio.