Dignatories from opposite banks of the river will meet on top of the Tyne Bridge span today - for the first time since the two halves of the structure were joined during its construction in 1928.

The historic meeting has been made possible because the bridge is shrouded in scaffolding for its first full paint job since 1985, making it safe to scale the structure to its very top.

Once at the top - 175ft above the River Tyne - Newcastle city council leader Tony Flynn and Gateshead council leader George Gill will pose for a re-enactment of a black and white photograph recording the meeting in February 1928.

Project coordination manager Paul Fenwick said: "Safety standards, however, will be very different to the way they were in those days.

"It is incredible to look at many photographs which exist from the time of the bridge's construction, to see men dressed in ordinary clothes and cloth caps clambering around the structure without any safety measures in place.

"Hard hats will be the order of the day, but the two leaders will still have to have the same head for heights."