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Clifton Suspension Bridge


A copy of the manuscript of 'The Clifton Suspension Bridge - A Business Enterprise' is held in the University of Bristol Library Special Collections.

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The article 'A Business History of the Clifton Suspension Bridge' appeared in Construction History Volume 18, pp 3-20, 2002. (Construction History is the the Journal of the Construction History Society.)

The published article is supported by a set of illustrations not available on this website. The text of the published article may also be slightly different from that available here. However, a copy of the published article can be viewed online through the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge.

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The letter was written in response to a set of questions asked following a paper on the Clifton Suspension Bridge given at the Science Museum in 2003. It is interesting primarily because it questions how much of the Clifton Suspension Bridge that we know today can realistically be attributed to Isambard Kingdom Brunel:

I would argue that Marc was the “lead” engineer, not Isambard.

The Bridge as built was a “cheapie”. It differs greatly from Isambard’s original design, a point made by Mark Huish, the Chairman of the Company, in January, 1865 at the first Half-Yearly General Meeting held after the Bridge was opened.

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The above article is based on a paper presented to the Newcomen Society (the International Society for the History of Engineering and Technology).

Derek gave a paper on 'Suspension Bridges in Britain in the Early 19th Century with Particular Reference to the Clifton Suspension Bridge Competition' to the Institution of Structural Engineers History Study Group on 29th October 2001. The script for this lecture has unfortunately been lost.

Derek also gave a lecture to the Newcomen Society on 8 October 2003 with the title of 'How Much Did Brunel Really Know About Suspension Bridges or Did Davies Gilbert Know Better? Clifton Suspension Bridge, 1831'.

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