Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,367 pages of information and 245,906 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Langton Street Bridge, Bristol

From Graces Guide
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Better known as the Banana Bridge.

Wrought iron arched bowstring footbridge, 134 ft long, on masonry abutments.

Built in 1882[1] by Finch and Co of Chepstow.

1882, July: 'THE NEW BRIDGE AT BEDMINSTER. The temporary foot bridge placed across the New Cut while Bedminster new bridge is being constructed was built on the existing bridge [?] and consists of two bowstring girders each 130 feet long giving a footway 10 feet in width. It is now being drawn over by chains and screws into position so that operations on tbe permanent bridge may be commenced. The weight of the footbridge is 80 tons and of wrought iron. When the bridge connecting Redcliff Hill with Bedminster is completed the footbridge will be removed to a point near St. Luke's Church, where it will span the Cut.'[2]

1882, August: 'The new Bedminster footbridge was open to traffic yesterday. The old bridge is still as partially in use, as it has been for several weeks.'[3]

A sight, the like of which will probably not be seen again in Bristol for many generations, may be witnessed at six o'clock on Tuesday morning — we allude to the removal, en suite, of the new iron footbridge at Bedminster to its permanent position at the bottom of Langton-street. The most elaborate preparations are being made, and, in fact, are so far nearly completed, that there cannot possibly be any hitch on that ground.
The pontoon for floating the bridge will be constructed of four 80-ton barges, braced together in pairs with the necessary framing. Upon them are built frames of the most solid and substantial character to a height of 23ft. 3in. from water line. Each pair of pontoons will be floated separately through the harbour and locks at Bathurst basin into the New Cut.
They will be taken under the new Bedminster-bridge, and a short distance beyond the footbridge which is to be removed. Here the separate pairs of pontoons will be braced together, forming one rigid structure, 64 feet in width. It will then be towed back underneath the footbridge, or, as it is technically termed, the bow string bridge. Here it will be firmly held until the tide rises underneath, and as it rises the bridge will be lifted bodily from its present bed plates. It will then be drawn sideways for a distance of about six feet, and will then be drawn sideways towards Bedminster about an equal distance.
Proceeding forwards in a direct line of about 30 feet, it will have cleared the parapet on the one side of the Cut, and the railings on the other. From here the tide will take the bridge up the river to its permanent situation at the bottom of Langton-street, where it will be moored to four mooring posts now in course of construction. The bridge will then be connected with separate pairs of blocks and tackle tied at right angles on each end for the purpose of adjusting it into the exact position over the bed plates.
As the tide recedes it will gradually fall into that position on the bed plates fixed on the new masonry. A couple of tugs will be employed, one in front and one aft of the pontoon.
The hour fixed for the operation is early, but it is necessary that the work should be performed on the top of a high tide. There will probably be a large number of spectators, notwithstanding the early hour at which it will be necessary to rise.
We may mention that the bridge is 134 feet in length, and is built of iron plates. The important duty of removing the bridge has been entrusted to Mr. D. Davies, of Crumlin, near Newport, who superintended its construction on behalf of Messrs. E. Finch and Company, Chepstow.'[4]

Relocated on pontoons from its temporary location to its present position on 26 February 1884:-

Thousands of early risers assembled near Bedminster Bridge and the Cut between six and half-past seven o'clock yesterday morning to witness the moving of the foot-bridge into its permanent resting place.
Bedminster Bridge was, as will be remembered, built in sections, and to relieve the pressure of the traffic, which was concentrated on the half bridge remaining open, it was decided to erect by the side of the old bridge an iron foot-bridge, and to make it of service when it should be no longer needed between Redcliff Hill and the Causeway to connect St. Luke's Road and Cathay. An iron bridge, 125 feet long, on the bow-string girder system, was accordingly built on the east side of old Bedminster Bridge, and tens of thousands of passengers passed over it during the construction of the fine new Bedminster Bridge which was opened a few weeks back by the Mayor.
The builders of the footbridge were Messrs Finch and Co., of Chepstow, and in their contract they undertook the responsibility of shifting the bridge from its temporary to its final position. This work was successfully carried out yesterday morning. In the last day or two the railings for several yards east of the footbridge were removed so as to afford plenty of space for operations. On Monday evening two massive wooden stagings, each resting on two large barges, lashed firmly together, were towed up to Bedminster Bridge and were there moored for the night. While the tide was low they were taken under Bedminster Bridge and placed in the centre of the stream close together. The woodwork was, as intimated, of the strongest description, consisting of great beams firmly bolted together, and it was of considerable height. The position to which it was brought was right below the footbridge, and as the tide rose the top of the staging came closer and closer and ultimately touched the bottom of the footbridge. The bridge weighed eighty tons, and had been given additional rigidity by several beams being wedged between its parts. The tide still flowed on, and the gradually rising barges with their staging lifted the bridge from off its bearings and very soon its lowest parts three feet above the level oi the railings skirting both sides of the cut. The tug Sea Bird then added its influence to that of the incoming tide, and the barges with their novel cargo were taken up the stream. When they came abreast of the pennant stone piers built by Mr Galbraith for the reception of the structure, they were brought to a standstill, and as the tide ebbed the bridge was gently lowered till it rested on the buttresses. The strengthening timbers were removed and the staging floated away.
The ease with which the heavy burden was lifted and taken up the river excited universal comment and admiration. The piers are both exactly the same level, but in consequence of the St. Luke's bank of the river being higher than the Redcliff side, a passenger from Redcliff to Totterdown will have to mount six steps on each side of the bridge, and on his return journey of course descend a similar number. The bridge will prove, when the little that remains to be done to open it is finished, a great boon to those on both sides of the water.’[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Western Daily Press - Wednesday 27 February 1884
  2. Western Daily Press - Friday 7 July 1882
  3. Western Daily Press - Thursday 3 August 1882
  4. Bristol Times & Mirror, 25 Feb 1884
  5. Western Daily Press - Wednesday 27 February 1884