Clifton Suspension Bridge River Avon in Bristol
19th Century Industry Fuels Engineering
The United Kingdomís growth during the Industrial Revolution - in the early 19th Century - fuelled major engineering projects. Large bridges were at this time, as they are today, major projects. Railways too can be considered as such.
London to Bristol Rail Link
One of these projects was the Great Eastern Railway. It was to link London and Bristol by train. Rivers, valleys and hills peppered the distance between the two cities. The Avon Gorge, through which the River Avon flows near Bristol, had to be conquered.
The man for the job was Isambard Kingdom Brunel. His answer to the Avon Gorge was the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1830. The passage of time has not overcome its beauty and originality.
Architecture and Design
Suspension bridge, in this case, means that two towers on each end serve as an anchor for the chains or cables holding the deck (roadway). The bridge stands 76 metres (250 feet) above the river. Its span measures over 213 metres (700 feet) in length. The original design had some Egyptian stylistic debts.
The Struggles of Engineering
Painful struggles seem always to surround major engineering feats. It is as though fate whispers doom to human daring. The Clifton Suspension Bridge would be no exception.
The Completion of Brunel's Dream
Later that century William Barlow and John Hawkshaw wanted to complete the bridge. In 1860 they resurrected Brunelís designs. They modified the design by incorporating a higher deck and using triple instead of double chains to suspend it. Construction was restarted in 1862 and ended successfully two years later.
Trivia about Clifton Suspension Bridge