AN iconic bridge could benefit from a £2.7m makeover in time for its 100th anniversary.

Suggested improvements to the Transporter Bridge, in Middlesbrough, include installing lifts to the top and a viewing area.

Its centenary celebrations on October 17, 2011, may also feature a fireworks display and a year-long programme of events to commemorate the historic attraction.

Middlesbrough Council will discover early next year if it has hurdled the first stage of the application process after submitting a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid to modernise the bridge.

Ashok Kumar, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has backed the funding proposal for what he described as “Teesside’s iconic landmark”.

The Grade II-listed structure was opened in 1911 and is the only one of its kind in England.

Following a 1907 Act of Parliament the bridge was built, costing £84,000, between 1910 and 1911 to replace an earlier steam ferry.

The Transporter was integral to the plot of the third series of the cult television show, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, in 2002, when a plan was hatched to dismantle the bridge, sell it and reassemble it in Arizona, in the US.

Mr Kumar said: “The Transporter is one of only two such bridges in the UK, and one out of only seven in the world still operating.

“Arguably the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge is the most famous, and has served as Teesside’s unforgettable icon for nearly a century.

“Not only has it appeared in films and on TV, but it also has the distinction of being awarded the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ highest honour, The Heritage Plaque, for engineering excellence.

“It is a great example of bridge building and constructional steelwork and is a testament to the engineering skills of the people of Teesside.”

Proposed improvements to the 850ft-long and 225ft-high frame also include upgrading the IT equipment in the visitor centre and artistic interpretive panels.

Councillor Charlie Rooney, executive member for transport at Middlesbrough Council, said: “The Transporter Bridge is a great tourist attraction for Middlesbrough and iconic symbol for Teesside.

“If this bid is successful the bridge will benefit from modern improvements with greater accessibility for all and will be a fitting way to celebrate its centenary year.”