Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

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  • Clifton Suspension Bridge
    by tim07
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge
    by tim07
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge
    by tim07
  • sue_stone's Profile Photo

    Spectacular Bridge!

    by sue_stone Updated Jan 14, 2005

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    Clifton Suspension Bridge

    The Clifton Suspension Bridge is an awe-inspiring site.

    Located in the gorgeous Northwest Bristol area of Clifton, it spans a stretch of the Avon Gorge, 75 metres about the water.

    The bridge was built between 1836 - 1864, designed by the famous Brunel.

    You can walk across the bridge for a closer look, and drive across for a fee of 30pence each way.

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  • aaaarrgh's Profile Photo

    Clifton and the Suspension Bridge

    by aaaarrgh Updated Sep 23, 2005

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    hanging around
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    The great British engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was a remarkable man and one of his great achievments was the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It took well over 30 years to build, finished in 1864. The bridge carries a road between Bristol and Somerset, 70 metres above the River Avon!!

    I won't churn out lots of facts because there is a Visitor Centre nearby. And information on a large plaque near the bridge. You can walk or bicycle across the bridge for free and admire the engineering at close hand.

    Or walk down the twisting 'zig-zag' path to the bottom of the gorge to see a splendid view from the road below.

    What was just as nice for me was the surrounding neighbourhood, Clifton Village. It is full with pretty Georgian buildings and its own Crescent (not quite as nice as Bath!). And trendy cafe's/restaurants .

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  • mindcrime's Profile Photo

    Golden Gate of Bristol!

    by mindcrime Written Apr 26, 2009

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    Clifton Suspension Bridge
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    The Clifton Suspension Bridge is the top sight for visitors in Bristol. For me it’s like the Golden Gate for San Francisco. High over the Avon River, at 75meters, it spans the Avon Gorge. It’s a beautiful bridge that becomes more beautiful during the night when it’s all lit up. It was designed by the famous engineer Isambard Brunel in 1830 (he also designed the SS Great Britain boat and the train station). The bridge started to built in 1836 but Brunel died in 1859. The bridge finally finished 5 years later in 1864. The height of towers is 26meters above deck while the span is 214 meters.

    We had some nice views of the bridge from the Observation Hill while we were watching the sunset. At the same moment we noticed many children playing on the slide (the water on it was turned into ice). Extreme sports!...

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  • grayfo's Profile Photo

    Clifton Suspension Bridge

    by grayfo Written Apr 19, 2010

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    The Clifton Suspension Bridge is the symbol of the city of Bristol. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel he never lived to see it completed, Brunel died prematurely aged 53 yrs in 1859, and the Bridge was completed as his memorial and finally opened in 1864.

    February 2010

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  • JuliaK's Profile Photo

    Suspension Bridge

    by JuliaK Written Apr 2, 2003

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    Suspension Bridge.

    The most famous spot of Bristol... the Suspension Bridge.
    The picture is not that clear..sorry. It was taken from a beautiful pub next to the bridge, called the White Lion. One of our favorite choices to go when the weather is warm. We sit on the huge terrace that they have and enjoy the views!!!

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  • TheLongTone's Profile Photo

    simply gorgeous

    by TheLongTone Updated Feb 27, 2009

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    The Clifton Suspension Bridge is the Bristolian icon, so I suppose my Bristol page isn’t complete without something about it. Bristol is a city of many bridges, of hugely varying interest, beauty and utility and whereas the suspension bridge rates high for the first two criteria it is actually of very little practical value, which accounts for the extremely long story of it’s construction: over a hundred years elapsing between the idea of spanning the Avon Gorge and it’s opening. Basically, it doesn’t really go anywhere important.

    After a local merchant made a bequest for the constuction of the bridge in the eighteenth century nothing much happened until 1830 when a competition was announced for designs for a bridge. After a great deal of finagling Brunel suceeded in getting the commission. Work was started but after constructing the abutments and towers the money ran out: the structure languished in this state for a couple of decades before, upon IKB's untimely death, the idea of completing the bridge as a memorial was conceived. It's not quite Brunel's original design: originally the Egyptianesque towers were to be adorned with sphinxes and cast-iron plaques celebrating the manufacturing arts, the roadway is wider than originally conceived and the suspension chains and saddles were recycled from Brunel's Hungerford footbridge over the Thames near Charing Cross. (the saddles were an innovative feature actually devised by Isembard's father Marc, who in many ways is a more important figure in the history of technology that his son)

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    Clifton suspension bridge

    by Gyppo Written Mar 2, 2008

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    Clifton suspension bridge from the observatory
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    The bridge is simply an awesome piece of engineering. Based on a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it was completed in 1864. It spans more than 200m. On the side away from Bristol, there is a portakabin with a little (free) museum examining the history of the bridge.

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  • uglyscot's Profile Photo

    high in the sky

    by uglyscot Updated May 22, 2009

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    looking towards the bridge
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    Clifton Suspension Bridge is really something. I have a chronic fear of heights and had to hold my daughter's hand when we drove across it. She and her father then parked and walked back over it, leaving me in the car, while they took photos.
    The bridge crosses the Avon linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset, England. It was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, though he did not live to see its completion. It was built 1862-64. It has a span of 600 feet, and the original plan was to have Egyptian style towers at either end, but instead the rock was left in its natural state.
    It is a toll bridge.

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  • Airpunk's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by Airpunk Written Oct 15, 2006

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    The observatory with the camera obscura

    This camera obscura is the only one open to the public in England. It was built into an old windmill which ceased operations in 1777. After the windmill was redesigned into an observatory, the camera obscura was installed in 1829.

    After paying a small entry fee (I think it was 2,00 pounds), you have to climb up the stairs up to the "dark chamber". A lens, installed on the roof, projects the bridge and the Avon gorge onto the vaulted table in the middle of the room. As you may assume, it is dark inside, so be careful when you enter. There is no guide or operator inside - you have to move the device on your own to see all the surrounding areas.

    The entrance to a natural cave is also located in the same building. I think that the entrance fee for that, which you have to pay at the same desk, was 1,00 pound.

    In my opinion, both were worth a visit - these two attractions enable you to see the beautiful landscape in a different way.

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  • Airpunk's Profile Photo

    Clifton Suspension Bridge

    by Airpunk Written Oct 13, 2006

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    Clifton Suspension Bridge
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    Isambard Kingdom Brunel had a great influence on Bristol by designing Bristol's new train terminal, two steamships and the suspension bridge in Clifton. There were already plans to build a bridge over this place of the Avon Gorge in 1754. However, costs, riots, long discussions and further discomfort led to a delay until 1830, when a design presendet by Brunel won the race. One reason for that was probably the use of egyption-styled towers - at a time where egyptology became famous and popular. However, this egyptian influence is not really obvious today as the sphinxes were not placed on top of the towers due to budget reasons. After funds ran out in 1843, further construction was stopped and the material was used to build another Brunel-designed bridge in Plymouth. Brunel died in 1859 and it was decided to complete the Clifton Suspension Bridge as a kind of monument for Brunel. The chains from Hungerfor Suspension Bridge (a Brunel-designed bridge in London which was demolished in 1860) were purchased and further funds were raised. In 1864, the bridge was finished and opened for public. Pedestrian and cyclists can cross the bridge for free, but a small fee must be paid by road vehicles.

    Do not miss to visit the vistor's center or have a look from spectator's park (see main picture). Today, the bridge is one of Bristol's best known monuments, although it is a little far away from the city center. The beautiful landscape of the Avon Gorge, two small attractions close to the Bridge (a natural cave and a camera obscura) and the fancy district of Clifton makes it an interesting, but still not crowded place. If you like to walk, ascend/descend via a small path which you will find at the southern part of the bridge. It will lead you to the eastern bank of river Avon. Down there, there's a lot of traffic, but a nice view on the Avon Gorge. You will find the path leading down from the small terrace or leading up ... see below.

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  • Sjalen's Profile Photo

    Clifton Suspension Bridge

    by Sjalen Updated Mar 4, 2006

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    One of the first things I wanted to see in Bristol as I am fascinated by the industrial revolution period in England was the famous bridge at Clifton and I was not disappointed. It was shorter than I expected (215 metres) but impressive enough, spanning 75 metres above the Avon Gorge. We walked across it and the wind is strong up there so hold on to any hats you may wear :))) You can walk in the observatory park above the bridge and see it from all possible angles too. Not surprisingly, it is one of the more popular places in Bristol for suicides and there are plaques with "depression help line" numbers on the bridge which is a bit bizarre but probably helps a few. I prefered to read the information on Brunel himself and see pictures with decorations from various jubilees. Originally, the bridge was meant to have sphinxes on the towers since it was drawn up when Egypt was a huge influence on architecture, but money ran out.

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  • coopergirl2003's Profile Photo

    Suspension Bridge

    by coopergirl2003 Written Oct 4, 2006

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    I can't say that visiting a suspension bridge would ever be high on my list of 'must see's' but this one is pretty spectacular, especially when you realise it's quite old!

    You can drive over it for 30p (silver coins only and no 5p's!) or walk over it for free. It's got good views and a few walks either side of the bridge.

    Worth a visit if you're in the area.

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  • KennetRose's Profile Photo

    The Avon Gorge

    by KennetRose Written Dec 9, 2002

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    Not as big as the Grand Canyon, of course, but pretty stupendous all the same! Walk across the suspension bridge or drive along the Portway, or best of all walk through Leigh Woods to see it. In the days of sailing ships, the ships' masters used to fear the 10km or so from Bristol City Docks to the Severn far more than anything they might meet on the high seas. The treacherous rocks and mudbanks, and swirling currents exacerbated by the second-highest tides in the world (say Hi! to our friends in Saint John, New Brunswick, who have the highest) made it a nightmare journey. These days, in summer, you can go on a cruise down the gorge and on to Clevedon, Penarth or Ilfracombe.

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    Clifton Suspension Bridge

    by KennetRose Written Dec 9, 2002

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    The Golden Gate Bridge may be more glamorous, and that one in Japan may be longer, but the Clifton Suspension Bridge is a magnificent piece of Victorian engineering, spanning the breathtaking Avon Gorge high above the waters - or more usually mud - of the River Avon.

    It is as much a symbol of the city as the Eiffel Tower is of Paris or the Leaning Tower is of Pisa.

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  • rbaynton's Profile Photo

    Well you have to see our...

    by rbaynton Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Well you have to see our famous bridge (& its free to walk over - by far the best way to go)
    Today the Clifton Suspension Bridge is looked after by a Trust set up under an Act of Parliament of 1952. The 13 trustees include representatives of local government together with others chosen for their technical or business expertise. The trustees are empowered to collect tolls, although since 1991 pedestrians and cyclists have crossed free of charge
    Four designs were shortlisted with Brunel being placed second. However, he quickly arranged a meeting with the leading judge and soon convinced him that technical objections to his design were unjustified. Within two days Brunel was proclaimed the winner and also appointed engineer for the project. In 1831, £20,000 short of the necessary funds, work began. Only a few weeks later the Bristol Riots broke out, the bloodiest civil disturbances to take place in 19th century England, with the mob in control of the city for two days until dispersed by cavalry. Business confidence collapsed and it was over four years before work on the bridge resumed.
    By 1853 the time span allotted by Parliament expired. The committee sold the ironwork, machinery and equipment to pay the contractors and much of the material was used on Brunel's Royal Albert Bridge linking Devon and Cornwall at Plymouth. Brunel died in 1859 at the age of 53 through overwork and 40 cigars a day without ever seeing the completion of his bridge
    Brunel's early death inspired the completion of the bridge. The Institution of Civil Engineers decided to finish the bridge as a memorial to him. It was estimated that £45,000 would be needed to complete the project and by December £30,000 had been raised. Happily for today's road traffic these engineers decided to use three chains instead of two and to widen the roadway from 7 metres to 9 metres.
    In July 1864 the last cross girder was in place and as a safety test 500 tonnes of stone were spread on the road and footpath. The bridge sagged 18 centimetres in the middle, well within acceptable limits.
    On 8 December 1864 the ceremonial opening took place

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