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Clifton Suspension Bridge opens

Posted in Anniversary, Architecture, Transport on Saturday, 27 November 2010

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picture, Clifton Suspension Bridge, River Avon, Bristol

Clifton Suspension Bridge was completed as a tribute to its late designer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel

8 December marks the anniversary of the opening of Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1864. This magnificent bridge had a rocky history leading up to its opening. William Vick, a merchant from Bristol, left a bequest of £1,000 in his will in 1753 stipulating that once interest on that amount reached £10,000, it was to be used to build a stone bridge across the Avon. Although funds accrued, they were far short of the cost of a stone bridge. Instead, the government invited designs for an iron bridge in 1823.

Thomas Telford claimed that no suspension bridge could be build longer than the 577 feet of his Menai Suspension Bridge and rejected all designs. A second competition attracted Isambard Kingdom Brunel and work based on his design began in 1831. Work being suspended during the Bristol Riots and not begun again until 1836. By 1843, with the towers built, funds ran out and the ironwork was sold to build the Royal Albert Bridge. New funds were raised following Brunel’s death and, Using chains from the Hungerford suspension bridge across the Thames, which was demolished to make way for a new railway bridge, work began again in 1862 and completed two years later.

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