IN a final journey laden with symbolism, Sidney Robinson crossed over the river which was his great love to a resting place in the city to which the Usk gave birth.

At 10.17am yesterday, with a polar wind causing the Welsh flag atop the Transporter Bridge’s gondola to flutter, the hearse carrying the coffin for Mr Robinson, a local historian and writer who died at the age of 97, approached.

The top-hatted foot escort for the cortege stood aside as the flower-laden hearse rumbled on to the bridge. A gathering of friends, largely Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge but also drawn from the ranks of Newport Civic Society, the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, Newport City Council and the Salvation Army looked silently on.

Many times, even into his 90s, Mr Robinson crossed the precipitous walk over the top of the bridge hundreds of feet above the River Usk, his mission on most such journeys to promote the bridge both to Newport’s citizens and to the world at large.

This time it was the turn of the river to serve him.

Mr Robinson was born in Newport the year the First World War broke out and his first memories were of Newport as it was almost a hundred years ago when the paint on the looming structure which was a focus for his passion was barely dry.

“He was a founder member of the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge, vice-chairman, chairman and finally vice-president.

Sidney was an inspiration to us all,” Anne Gatehouse of the FoNTB said.

“His loving wife’s funeral cortege crossed on the bridge and there is absolutely no doubt that Sidney on his way to join her would have wanted the same.”

Among those who accompanied this much-respected man on his progress to Christchurch cemetery were Councillor David Hando in his capacity as chairman of the Friends and Councillor Charles Ferris, who is the Friends’s council representative.

The gondola gently bumped into the cushioned pier on the far side and the funeral cars disembarked – and with that a man who had been a link to the bridge’s very earliest days departed.