Clifton Suspension Bridge

Orientation & Geography

Europe, United Kingdom, North Somerset

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Avon Gorge, and linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset, England. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it is a landmark that is used as a symbol of Bristol. It is a grade I listed building. The idea of building a bridge across the Avon Gorge originated in 1753 originally for a stone bridge with later plans for a cast iron structure. An attempt to build Brunel's design in 1831 was stopped by the Bristol Riots, and the revised version of his designs was built after his death being completed in 1864. Although similar in size, the bridge towers are not identical in design, the Clifton tower having side cut-outs, the Leigh tower more pointed arches atop a 110 ft (33 m) red sandstone clad abutment. Roller mounted "saddles" at the top of each tower allow movement of the three independent wrought iron chains on each side when loads pass over the bridge. The bridge deck is suspended by eighty-one matching vertical wrought-iron rods. Two men were killed during the construction of the bridge and since then it has become known as a suicide bridge and is fitted with plaques that advertise the telephone number of The Samaritans. The bridge is a distinctive landmark, used as a symbol of Bristol on postcards, promotional materials, and informational web sites. It has also been used as a backdrop to several films and television programmes.