standard Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the beautiful Avon Gorge , England is a suspension bridge and a symbol of Bristol .

The Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge


The idea of building a bridge across the Avon Gorge originated in 1753, with a bequest in the will of Bristolian merchant William Vick, who left £1,000 invested with instructions that when the interest had accumulated to £10,000, it should be used for the purpose of building a stone bridge in that area .

24 year old Isambard Kingdom Brunel was declared the winner for the contest and hired as project engineer , his first major project . Work began in 1831 but the project was dogged with political and financial difficulties and by 1843, with only the towers completed, the project was abandoned. Isambard died at only 53 years old in 1859 and eventually the Clifton Suspension Bridge was completed in his memory and was opened in 1864.

The bridge is now managed by a trust set up by Act of Parliament in 1952. A toll of £0.50 is levied on vehicles, but the £0.05 toll that applies to cyclists or pedestrians is no longer collected.

In 2003, the weight of crowds travelling to and from the Ashton Court festival and Bristol International Balloon Fiesta put such great strain on the bridge that it was decided to close the bridge to all traffic, including pedestrians, during the whole of the Ashton Court Festival and part of the Balloon Fiesta in 2004. The closure of the bridge for major annual events has continued each year since then.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge Design

Clifton Design

Designed in the early 19th century for light horse drawn traffic it still meets the demands of 21st century commuter traffic with 11-12,000 motor vehicles crossing it every day.

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. Ornaments were never constructed such as the original design.

The 85 ft (26 m) tall Leigh Woods tower stands atop a 110 ft (33 m) red sandstone clad abutment. In 2002 it was discovered that this was not a solid structure but contained 12 vaulted chambers up to 35 ft (11 m) high, linked by shafts and tunnels.The weight of the bridge, including chains, rods, girders and deck is approximately 1,500 tons.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge Night

Visitor information

For almost 150 years Clifton Suspension Bridge has attracted visitors from all over the world and it’s still a major attraction in Bristol.

An Interpretation Centre is situated at the Leigh Woods end of the bridge. It contains information and images about  the construction and completion of the bridge, and daily mentenance . Books, postcards and souvenirs are for sale . The Interpretation Center is open daily from 10-5 PM .


  • Span - 702 ft 3 in (214.05 m)
  • Height of towers - 86 ft (26 m) above deck
  • Tower Width - 11 ft (4 m)
  • Clearance – 245 ft (75 m) above high water level
  • Traffic – Four million vehicles per year

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