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Tension Holds Me Up!

FujiFinepix F450 (Point & Shoot Digicam).

 

This one is for heavenuphere and andi2........

 

A little history lesson... In 1829 a leading civil engineer by the name of Thomas Telford held a little competition to help him spend some money bequeathed to the City of Bristol in 1754, by a wine merchant (who had obviously done quite well out of the place!) specifically to fund the building of a bridge over the Avon Gorge.

 

Thing is, Telford was a bit of a lad, whilst he WAS hosting the competition, he was also the judge and helpfully dismissed all of the other competition entries, declaring that his own design was the best!

 

Now this didn't go down too well, democracy was at least getting a bit of a look in fortunately. So it was decided to host another competition.

 

Much to Telfords disgust a young 'whipper-snapper' called Isambard Kingdom Brunel not only won the competition, but was offered gainful employment as the Project Engineer. Telford was highly unimpressed and predicted disaster and ruination - it was IKB's very first commission. He was 24 years old.

 

The foundation stone for the Bridge was laid in 1831, and only the two towers (of which this is one) had been built by 1843. Mainly because lots of men spent a long time arguing over the validity and cost of the design.

 

Brunel occupied himself with one or two other diversionary activities whilst they argued and then upped and died in 1859, which was a tad unfortunate. Presumeably feeling a bit guilty by this stage, the powers that be decided that it would be a fitting memorial for the person who had become one of the greatest civil engineers the country had ever produced, if they actually finished the thing according to his original design. They finally managed this and opened the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1864. (Hurrah!!!)

 

It is also important to remember that it was designed for the use of light horse drawn vehicles. Astonishing to think that almost 150 years later, the bridge now copes with about 12,000 motorised vehicles daily!

 

Given the tidal range of the Avon River, the density of the rock on the left hand side of the gorge, and the height they were building at (when there were NO mechanical cranes or heavy lifting machinery in existence) it is a remarkable testament that not a single person died in the process of building the bridge. Brunel himself had a near miss in the equivalent of what was effectively a basket on the end of a rope & pulley system - but he didn't believe he could ask his workers to do something he wasn't prepared to do himself!!!!

 

This is undoubtedly the first of many pictures I will be posting from below, across, on and beside the bridge over the coming months. Brunel left a prolific engineering legacy to the City of Bristol - in due course, I'll probably share some of that too....

 

Carry on left up the river and you end up in the city centre, take a right and it's really not very far to the sea...it is a stunningly beautiful place when the light is right!

 

Just one more aside - have you noticed the shadows cast by those gorgeous lamps on the tower? I have.....and I'm going back to get 'em!!!! :-)

 

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Taken on September 21, 2005