Ferdinand Arnodin  and
  The transporter Bridges -
first part



  2nd part


Michel Wagner       

 personalized stamps from 2011

1- définitions , precursors, causes and origins
The notion of "transporter" applies whenever there is transfer by mechanical means - boat, cable car etc.., Freight or passengers from one bank of a stream or river towards the other edge. These means of transport have been widely used on the iconography of the stamps, but mostly on postcards ...

Tronsporter ferry boat in  Laos  (yt416 de1882 -(Coll. M.W.)

- Ferry à Sassnitz - RDA yt520 de 1960
(Coll. M.W.)

- tunnel under canal in  Anvers- Belgium  (Coll. M.W.)

-  Industrial transporter
near Sarrebruck   yt
83 de 1922
(Coll. M.W.)

The cable ferry over the Niagara of the Spanish engineer L. T. Quevedo (1913)
(Coll. M.W.)

Moving bridge at ST Malo c- Postcards from 1909 & 1911
(Coll. M.W.)

Commissioned between 1873 and 1923, invented and built by engineer Alexandre Leroyer, this  moving bridge, unique, worked for a short distance pulled by cables moved by a motor, at low tide as at high tide. Its traveller would have inspired F. Arnodin who sent to his daughter Aline, wife of G. Leinekugel Le Cocq, a card adorned with a comment that began with the verse:
shows the
 traveller bridge
    Kind of ferry child
    If you turn it upside
    Its wheels will go down in the air ...


The transporter bridges, designed in the late nineteenth century responded to several requirements, where other means of communication (traditional bridges, tunnels, etc..) had quickly found their limits:

- To allow crossing estuaries or marine passes subject to weather conditions.
To allow the passage of larger boats with masts could exceed several tens of meters.


-Postcard  The" Duguay-Trouin",  bridge under the transporter from Rochefort-
 Ed.Ch Giamblasi- (Coll. M.W.)



-Make easier communication between both sides for the transhipment of goods and men
- Develop a crossing that is a manufacturing and operating cost as low as possible ...



The originality of Arnodin, in addition to its technical characteristics, derived from an original mode of operation, the concession of paying construction costs and to repay the tax collection and transport of visits for access the deck.
Today, a similar but modernized concession was granted to Eiffage for building and operation of the Millau Viaduct.

  -Label,  memory of the passage on the ferry from Marseille pasted on a postcard. (Coll. M.W.)


2- Designers
Ferdinand Arnodin,
French engineer born near Lyon in 1845, began his career in the company where his father worked. The latter, the former home Seguin became Societe Generale of Toll Bridges was specialized in the construction of metallic suspension bridges , he carried the duties of Inspector of works.Shortly after he moved to Châteauneuf - sur-Loire near Orleans to melt a construction company where ingenuity and powers of observation led him to invent more ways of improving the safety and soundness of bridges Type Seguin, then imagine other types of bridges.
The factory at  Châteauneuf - old poscard - Julien Ed.( coll M.Wagner)

- We owe him among other things, a new way to manufacture cables: the alternative to twisting, which in addition to his strength allowed to wrap and transport ...; a metal girder stiffening system, an electric swivelling crane , jackupa portable Riveter..., so many creations that were of assistance in determining the effectiveness and low cost of carrying out his works ...

-Paper bearing the letterhead of the company Arnodin .
coll.D.Leinekugel Le Cocq)





In 1887 he filed jointly with the engineer Martin Alberto Palacio a patent for the construction of a transporter bridge that was built in Portugalete - (Bilbao) and commissioned in 1993. 


- Bust of Ferdinand Arnodin.
( Collection D. Leinekugel Le Cocq family ) 

The Bishop of Orleans, Monseigneur Touchet, will at weddings Leinekugel Gaston Le Cocq with Aline subsequently as the latter's daughter Noelle, a flattering portrait of Ferdinand Arnodin: "Je me suis lié promptement  avec lui. Ces hommes qui se font eux-mêmes, qui tirent d'eux-mêmes à force d'intelligence, d'honnêteté, de travail, de bon sens, leur situation, celle de leur famille; ces hommes qui sont des créateurs de la fortune publique, qui font vivre, en se les associant, des centaines d'ouvriers; ces hommes qui sentent la responsabilité du patronat  et sont décidés à en remplir les multiples obligations;
ces hommes dis-je, conquérants pacifiques sont dignes de tout respect..."(22 octobre 1900)
...Le Patriarche, le fondateur , le chef de famille ,  Mr Arnodin, droit  comme un vieux chêne, fier et bon, avec sa noble tête aux yeux de saphir, son front  surmonté d'une incomparable couronne de cheveux blancs ,derrière lui  traîne imposante, alliant le souvenir de sa vie de jeune campagnard puis d'ouvrier, puis de mécanicien quasi génial, puis d'inventeur inlassable, puis d'homme appliqué à tous les genres d'études, d'autodidacte étonnant..."
(5 mai 1925) - 
 Source : Didier Leinekugel Le Cocq 
In 1900 Gaston Leinekugel Le Cocq, polytechnic and hydrographer married Aline, daughter of Ferdinand and Arnodin, and becomes a valuable contributor to the latter.. He will create its own company in 1922 in Larche, Correze, then, associated with his brother in law George Arnodin, it will take to the death of Ferdinand in 1924, the business succession Arnodin. He will specialize in the design of suspension bridges, including bridges Gisclard type, and by numerous patents, will change the technical and cost of modern suspension bridges.

Gaston Leinekugel Le Cocq at his study_-Photographic glass plate, after the "funds Arnodin"

   Paper-to-header of the company after 1924 Arnodin
(coll. D.Leinekugel Le Cocq) and announcements of the death of F.Arnodin (private collection destroyed)

Another engineer, Georges Camille Imbault (1877-1951) born in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire began his career in the business Arnodin then will move to England but did not sever ties with Chateauneuf. He will thus control the work of the tranporter bridge from Newport, and will participate with his company, the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Corporation Ltd, to build numerous bridges, including the Transporter bridge from Middlesbrough in 1911 with Dorman Long and Company, associated with M Freeman, the one of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1930.


In the late nineteenth century, several engineers were working on similar projects, particularly in England where in 1873 Charles Smith drew up plans for a "ferry bridge" that for financial reasons could not be erected.
The first transporter bridge built in England was that of Runcorn in 1905 (John James Webster from -1845 to 1914), but it is in Bilbao (Portugalete) Spain, that will erect the first transporter bridge in 1893.

This will be followed: in 1898 the bridge of Bizerte, which will be dismantled soon after and back to Brest in 1909), the bridge of Rouen (1899), the bridge of Rochefort (1900), the bridge of Nantes (1903), the bridge of Marseille (1905), that of Newport in Britain (1906), and finally that of Bordeaux, started in 1913, which will never be complete.

The Bridge of Bilbao - oil on canvas -1898    
                (photo M.Wagner, Musée de la Marine de Loire- Châteauneuf)

Several other ferries remained in draft form, including one in 1897 a transorter to the Pointe de Tankerville (Seine Maritime) Sce: "Traversée on the Seine Maritime Transporter at Pointe Tancarville" - F.Arnodin Orleans 1897 - Printing Paul Pigelet

Another project was that in 1903, a massive rail transporter bridge for the passage of trains between Port Jerome and Quillebeuf.
It reportedly had an  470m span , located 60m above the water level and supported by four towers 107m high. The gondola suspended by cables 320 side and diagonal of nearly 80m in length would have withstood a load close to 250 tons ...

A project of transporter bridge concerned also the Belgian city of Ostend. A Magazine of 1907 describes this project:

"... We can judge the economy of time, ease of communication that would result from installing the transporter bridge that would flow continuously ... The top of the pylons of the bridge could be used to establish a wireless telegraphy station at a height well above those of all other positions on the coast. Could fit also, if necessary, lights and signals input port. The steel deck will be set at a minimum height of fifty feet above high tide level, so no way to prejudice the entry and departure of ships.This deck has a length of 200 m. The nacelle would be driven by electricity would have a length of 30 meters and a width of five feet eight inches. Besides the three tram cars and vehicles, it could carry two hundred and forty people per trip ...Construction of a transporter bridge over the channel  from Ostend meets the public interest... In connecting directly the whole coast from Nieuport to the Dutch border and just pass through a coastal tram transporter bridge, we believe that we will complete the wonderful works that His Majesty and the Government have done for the development of the coast ... "

Pictures from the magazine

In 1910, a quite advanced Transporter bridge project is proposed in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) between the arsenal and the island of Cobras. A competing project is finally selected

Documents from " Arnodin Content"

nother project was in 1913, that of a"transporter" from 272 m to link Oléron Island to the mainland. The war of 1914 put an end to as many others ...
In this new century other transporter bridges will be built by other companies in Europe and worldwide.

Usa (1905,
changed to a lift bridge) ; Warrington- Angleterre (2 brifges, 1908 and 1916); Osten (1909) and Kiel  (1910) - Germany ;  Middlesbrough - England ( 1911); Rendsburg in Germany (1913 ) ; Buenos Aires- Argentina (1914) . Rio de Janeiro (1915) …

Transporter bridge from Rendsburg - Germany, 
still in use today (coll M.W.)
( Voir Liens: http://www.schwebefaehre.org/

-Osten- Germany (coll M.W.)


"The personalized stamp issued in May 2005 by the Austrian Post is located between the Transporter Bridge on Osteen Osten Hemmoor and, in the district of Cuxhaven, Land Niedersachsen (Germany). It was studied by Louis Pinette, a pupil of Gustave Eiffel commissioned by the city of Osten and inaugurated on 10.01.1909. This is the oldest transporter bridge in Germany, with a height of 38 m. and a length of 80 m. Without interfering navigation on the river Oste, provided liaison between Osten, business center and the railway line Harburg - Cuxhaven, completed in 1896, and this, in all weathers: in times of high water as hard frost. After replacement of this binding by a road bridge in 1974, it was almost destroyed. It is now a historical monument of national interest. Since its restoration, it is used for tourist transport.The issue of this stamp personalized results from a request made by Austrian Post World Transporter Bridge Association whose Honorary President is the King of Spain Juan Carlos I. " Sce: http://www.niederelbe.de/FAEHRE/f-text2.htm

Most transporter bridges are built  on the same principle as developed by Ferdinand Arnodin, for which he applied for a patent in 1887. These are suspension bridges whose deck consists of steel truss,  placed high on two pylons installed on each side of the river.Rails placed on the deck allow the movement of a carriage which is suspended a platform moving from one bank to another. A motor  moves the carriage in one direction or the other at a fast speed. Cables holding the deck are connected to the anchorages placed far behind the pylons if space permits, or vertically, as in Nantes and Marseille.
- Model of the transporter bridge of  Nantes
     photo M.Wagner - Musée de la Marine de Loire
- Châteauneuf- sur- Loire

Schematic plans of the Rochefort  Bridge (Sce: Marcel Prade," les Ponts- monuments historiques")

All bridges to ferry built by F. Arnodin are prefabricated in the factory of Châteauneuf piece by piece and then transported by train to their place of building where a small team of workers ensures the assembly which lasts about two years. Each piece is removable and replaceable.

5- The Transporter bridges of  F. Arnodin:

1 - Portugalete Bridge  (Bilbao- Espagne)- 1893

Located on the mouth of the Nervion in Portugalete, downstream of Bilbao, this transporter bridge is the result of a statement passed to the
 Spanish engineer Martin Alberto Palacio, who, seeking a manufacturer of cables, metArnodin  Ferdinand who  had just filed a patent , shortly before.. The two men joined together to build this book, and it seems that eventually, their both names figured on  published patents for the construction of ferries carried outside French territory.
Spain called "Puente Vizcaya", the distance from platform to platform is 160m, the cables that support the deck of 164m are anchored far enough behind the towers. The gondola is 8m of 6.25, 150 people can be seated.

Portugalete from the transporter bridge- Picture on glass,  from the "Fond Arnodin"

Postcard from 1990

Old postcard (Coll. M.W.)

" Puente Vizcaya" postcard  from 1902  Ed Landaburu Ph.H.T.M.M.(Coll.M.W.)

Engraving reproduction -  modern postcard






The deck will be destroyed during the Civil War and rebuilt between 1939 and 1941.


 Old postcard- Ed.L.G. Bilbao (Coll. M.W.)

In 1974 on the occasion of a philatelic exhibition, the bridge is chosen as the motif of postmark  -
Philatelic exhibition postmarks from 1974
(Coll. M.W.)

Postcard and postmarks from  1989

Postcard and postmarks from 1990 (Coll. M.W.)



In 1993 was celebrated the centenary of the "Puente Vizcaya" and a stamp exhibition is made on this occasion. In 1996 a new team of directors is appointed and begins the restoration of the bridge.
   Une association internationale est crée pour la protection et la sauvegarde des 9 ponts transbordeurs encore existants dans le monde, et un timbre est émis à cette époque à l'occasion du centenaire de l'école d'ingénieur de Bilbao.
An international association is established for the protection and safeguarding of nine bridges ferries still existing in the world, and a stamp is issued at this time to mark the centenary of the School of Engineering of Bilbao.


centennial postmarks on a postcard reproduction





 - Covers from 1993
Coll. M.W.)










Stamp, covers and FDC  from 1997 -  ( Yt N°3052 de 1997)(coll.M.W.)











The "Puente Vizcaya" has become a visual symbol of the city of Bilbao, as evidenced in this envelope announcing the 1980 World Cup Soccer 1982

FDC - Yvert&T
n°2217/18 from1980 and special numbered  label (Coll. M.W.)


In 2007, after enrolling in 2006 at the World Heritage of Unesco, a second stamp is issued, - so that no memory on Arnodin has never been issued by the French Post!
Spain- Stamp issued on the 26th of april 2007

The bridge is still in use today: transportation ticket of 2010

 Postcard fantasy (Iru Taldea - Grupo Tres)

 Le pont , très "stylisé" : Enveloppe et cachet de 2004

 Envelope and label of an  Esperanto Congress in 1966

Private stamp booklet, for an exhibition -  2014 (Coll. M.W.)

Publicity coaster - Bilbao
(Coll. M.W.)

2- The Bridge of Bizerte -Tunisia (1898)
Second transporter to be built by Arnodin, the transporter bridge  of Bizerte only worked a few years before being dismantled and reassembled in the military port of Brest. The channel through which it passes off 90m is indeed extended to 1907, therefore eliminating the usefulness of the store. It will be dismantled to be reassembled in Brest ...

  - Bridge'gondola"   of  Bizerte-

Photo time - (Coll D. Leinekugel Le Cocq)  & postcard from 1901


Double poscard (Coll. M.W.)
-Postcards from 1901 and 1903, (Coll. M.W.)


Postcards from 1904 and  1905 - Ed. Mounier - Bizerte et Ed. J.Picard & Cie  (Coll. M.W.)






































Postcard from 1907 Photo Moulnier Bizerte (Coll. M.W.)

Photo vintage (Coll. M.W.)

3- Rouen transporter bridge(1899)


Very similar to the two bridges previously built by Arnodin, the transporter bridge of Rouen  Has a span of143 m supported by two towers of 67 m.
Much appreciated by the public, building flagship maritime festivals, it was destroyed to slow the advance of German troops in June 1940.



-Old poscards
Ed La Cigogne et F.I.D. Ed_  
(Coll. M.W.)


Postcard from 1906

The gondola - old poscards and photos vintage

 Poscard and photo vintage

 Drawing fby   A.Goulon, Postcard from  1908

Photos vintage (Coll. M.W.)

- Postcard from 1909- Lévi & Neurdein Ed.(Coll. M.W.)








 Transport token( coll. MW)

- Boarding passes on the nacelle transporter from Rouen (Coll. M.W. )        

- Article from 'L'Illustration"  in 1899 -  (Coll. M.W.
 Article from "Le Monde Illustré -1899

- Postcards,
Reproduction of a poster designed by G.Rolland in 1910, and another one by  M .Pellerier  in  1935 

Marketing claims under the transporter bridge_ Postcard (Coll. M.W.)

The  bridge, decorated for maritime festival - Postcard 1906 (Coll.MW )

In January 1910 one of the largest floods of the Seine covered the base of the towers ...

 Old postcards  Ed CV.Rouen
(Coll. M.W.)


Town Festivals
Millennium- 1911

Millennium of the Norman installation: President Fallières goes down of the Gondola - postcard from 1911 (Coll

Poscard sent in 1908(
Coll. M.W.)

The harbor and the bridge- poscards from 1913 & 1930

Maximum card from1948 (stamp:Yt745 de1945)

4- Rochefort  transporter Bridge(1900)
maximun card from 1968  (Coll. M.W.)

From a preliminary draft prepared in 1891, and a final  presented in 1894, the transporter bridge in Rochefort, if it is built on the same principle as those previously built, however, presents some notable differences. The latter have a profile more curved than the previous , separating into two,  to let pass the gondola and giving an aesthetic dimension to the structure, wanted and affirmed by Arnodin. A strong silhouette, visible and elegant, painted and enhanced by avant-garde artists and filmmakers, criticized by others such as the writer Pierre Loti ("ugly as an Eiffel Tower" ...)Saved from destruction in 1976 by a decree classifying it "historical monument". Repaired in 1990, it is the only transporter bridge still visible in France.



Elevation of the bridge and pylon , designs by  Arnodin -- Départemental archives  of the Charente Maritime.

Construction of the bridge- Photographs ( 
coll Dominique Ravaud)

Ticket passage (circa 1950) & recent tickets for a visit...(Coll. M.W.)

   Opening the bridge in 1900 - Old postcard -
Cliché Grémion (Coll. M.W.)

Postcard sent in 1902(Coll. M.W.)

Postcard from 1904 (Coll. M.W.)

Gondola of theTransporter-  Postcard from 1908  (Coll. M.W.)

Postcard sent in 1911
(Coll. M.W.)

-Label on cover
- Trade fair from  1929  (Coll. M.W.)

Postal  stationery from 1951

IThe bridge is found on a stamp  showing his replacement, Martrou Lift Bridge,  built in 1966 and replaced himself with a concrete girder bridge in 1991, before being destroyed some time later.
Stamp yt1564 de 1968                                               - Aerial picture showing  the Martrou's three bridges
         before the lifting bridge destruction (middle...) .    

triple postcard - "Europ"Ed - Pierron (Coll. M.W.)

 Postcard  "Gaby"Edition

Old postcard  Le trèfle Ed.(Coll. M.W.)

from 16-09-2000
Coll. M.W.)

  Centenary postcard (Coll. M.W.) 

                                   Modern poscard ( Ed M. Marcou)
( Coll. M.W.)

The Gondola photo vintage

Photocard from 1950'years -
Chatagneau Ed(Coll. M.W.)

Postcard sent in 1995 -  Drawing from Jean Bellis

Old postcard


- Modern poscard (
Ed Europ- Pierron)(Coll. M.W.)

 Postal stationery from 2000: "Le pont transbordeur a 100 ans"
(Coll. M.W.)










ostal stationary from2010

Print postage meter, "Rochefort  Aéromarine"  from 1996  (Coll. M.W.)

- Rochefortpostal flame  - Aéromarine de 1996. (Coll. M.W.)

- Aéro-Marine, Rochefort, dlast day of the date podtmzrk    (Coll. M.W.)

 - Rochefort 14-09-80 (Coll. M.W.)

Postmark from 1994  (Coll. M.W.)

- EMA (Print postage meter)from 2008  (Coll. M.W.)

Personalized stamp from 2010

 Tourist  token from " la Monnaie de Paris"


First fishing trip of the frigate Hermione. Passage under the bridge , Martrou 7 seprembre 2014

following - part 2