I knew that on my visit to Bristol, Clifton Suspension Bridge was one of the places I wanted to see. After watching quite a few of TV shows about Brunel, I knew I had to add it on my to-visit list. Because we’ve visited in November, we didn’t get the chance to get a free tour of the bridge or hard hat tour of the Leigh Woods Vaults, as both were available until October. Find out more details about these tours on the website.
In the 1700s, the only way to cross the Avon was by ferry, unless you’d rather go in the city centre to pass the Bristol Bridge. Despite having some funds from the middle of the 18th century, it was in 1831 that Brunel won the competition for designing the bridge. The first design had some rather flamboyant features, Gothic or castle. A new Egyptian design was proposed.
Sadly the bridge was completed late, in 1864, 5 years after Brunel died. On the opening day, 150,000 people gathered to see it. The first member of the public to cross the bridge was a lady, 21 year old Mary Griggiths. She picked up her skirts and raced a man from Clifton to Leigh Woods.
In the background is Clifton Observatory. It can be visited, but we didn’t have the time at that point. The truth is that there are so many things to see, that only a couple of days are not enough.
In the Visitor Centre, there are some pictures, including one of SS Great Britain, when it returned in the 1970s. I’ve visited SS Great Britain, another marvel made by Brunel. A post about it will follow soon.
Clifton Suspension Bridge is in Bristol. The Visitor Centre is in Leigh Woods. There is no entry fee and is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Passing with the car on the bridge is only £1 per crossing. For pedestrians the access is free of charge.
Have you seen the Clifton Suspension Bridge?