New Wear Bridge

The ‘West Area Event’

Barnes Park in Sunderland

Family groups and hundreds of children from local schools took part in the event and we made lots of models of the New Wear Bridge.


To Make the bridge you will need a kit of parts, a pair of scissors and a pencil (which is used as a drill) and some pritt stick glue or sticky tape. If you have some coloured card or paper you can also make the road deck.


The two long thin strips of foam are pushed into the holes in the central base. This makes the tower or pylon.

A pencil is used to drill a hole through the two strips near the top and a the white plastic ‘click rivet’ is pushed through the holes and the white circular end clip is firmly pushed on. This holds the two strips tightly together at the top.

The two foam road decks are positioned end to end in the middle of the pylon and halves of cocktail sticks are used to ‘nail’ them to the central base.

Halves of cocktail stick are also used to join the cylindrical end supports to the ends of the road decks.

A pencil is used as a drill in the next step but you may wish to make a foam drill for plastic foam using some 6mm wooden dowel which has been sharpened to a point with a pencil sharpener - this is just the right diameter.

A pencil can be used with care to pierce holes (twist and push) in the pylon then short pieces of straw can be inserted as guides for the cables (string).

The kit contains 4 pieces of string but you can add more guides if more string is available.

The cables attach to the deck - next step - and pass through the guides to the other side of the bridge.



Cut some short pieces of straw about 3cm long. Drill holes horizontally into the deck in each corner and ‘push and twist’ a straw into the holes.

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Repeat the process for the rest of the cables (strings) on one side and then the other. Leave the strings slack to begin with then tighten them all a little at a time until tensioned - the road deck may lift at the ends if you over-tighten.

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Tension the cables by slowly pulling a loose end of the string through the straw. Repeat for each cable.

A card road deck can be added. Fold the edges up to create a fence or railings at either side.

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The aim of this project is to prepare all of the necessary teaching resources to deliver a major project in schools which centres around the design and construction of the bridge.

There will be activities to suit pupils of all ages and abilities in both Primary and Secondary schools.

wear bridge web pic

The Bridge type is called a ‘Cable Stay Bridge’

Map of river a

The location of the bridge is between North Hylton and South Hylton. This location was chosen so that the heavy congestion on the Queen Alexandra Bridge into the city will be relieved and it will also help with the development of the South side of the River bank.

The New Wear Bridge Project for schools

What will the project involve?

What will pupils make, do and learn?


Pupils will find out about....

  • Structures
  • Forces acting in structures
  • Materials properties and testing
  • Construction techniques
  • Types of bridge
  • The history of bridge design
  • Designing for a purpose and for a place
  • Working as a team
  • Problem solving approaches

Pupils will...

  • Perform materials strength tests
  • Make various structures models
  • Make individual truss bridges
  • Make a variety of different group bridges
  • Make a large classroom model of the New Wear bridge approximately 2metres long


Please get in touch if you would like to know more about this project. Contact details on ‘Technologytom’ homepage.


This is my first model of the bridge and over the next few weeks I will try to develop it further so that it is possible to construct it in the classroom and it offers an interesting challenge to pupils.

The road deck shown above is about 1.4m long and my intention is to produce a final model which is at least 2m in length.

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