TOP 5: Britain’s best bridges

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol this December, VisitEngland presents five of the best bridges England has to offer

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Clifton Suspension Bridge (c) VisitEngland

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

With December 2014 marking 150 years since the opening of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a plethora of activities have been planned to celebrate the occasion. The bridge, designed by English civil engineers William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw, opened on 8 December 1864 to a grand procession and cannon fire, and is officially a Grade I listed building. On 7 December this year, a dazzling firework display and procession took place on the bridge itself, finishing at the brand new Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, which has re-opened following its grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In addition to these festivities, a circus-theatre production entitled ‘Walking the Chains’ will celebrate the ‘history and legend’ of the bridge, from the 10 – 25 January, performed in apt setting of Brunel’s historic Passenger Shed at Temple Meads Station.

Tower Bridge (c) VisitEngland
Tower Bridge (c) VisitEngland

Tower Bridge, London

One of the world’s most iconic bridges, Tower Bridge took eight years to construct, before being finally unveiled in June 1894, as the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge ever completed. Over 11,000 tons of steel provided the framework for the Towers and Walkways, which were then clad in Cornish granite and Portland stone. This year marked the bridge’s 120th anniversary, so a special exhibition is running at the Guildhall Art Gallery until 5 January 2015. The bridge has also recently launched its brand new glass floor, offering visitors a never-before-seen view from 42 metres above the Thames.

Tyne-Bridge

Tyne Bridge, Newcastle

The Tyne Bridge links Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, and is a major landmark in the north of England. At the time of its construction, 1928, it was the world’s longest single span bridge. The Tyne Bridge Towers are regularly opened to the public as part of Heritage Open Days, which take place in September each year, and participants of the famous Great North Run also cross the bridge every year on their course.

Iron Bridge Shropshire (c) Shropshire Tourism
Iron Bridge Shropshire (c) Shropshire Tourism

Iron Bridge, Shropshire

Built in 1779, the incredible Iron Bridge was the world’s first of its kind and is an impressive reminder of England’s industrial past. Designed by English iron master Abraham Darby, it was constructed of solid iron girders supported on two stone abutments, and represented a major turning-point in the Industrial Revolution. Once built, it became a symbol of progress and technical mastery and people travelled from all over the world to see it, intent on finding out about this man-made wonder. Visit the Iron Bridge & Tollhouse, one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums, and discover the landmark’s secrets in an exhibition within the original Tollhouse.

Infinity Bridge
Infinity Bridge

Infinity Bridge, Stockton-on-Tees

This imposing bridge, which opened in May 2009, cost £15 million to build and is a public pedestrian and cycle bridge stretching across the River Tees. The name originates from the mathematical infinity symbol, which is formed by the bridge and its reflection. It was built as the result of an architectural design competition and took just under two years to build. Whilst in Stockton, visitors can take a riverside cruise along the Tees and enjoy the beautiful riverbanks and countryside, including the Preston Park Museum and Grounds.

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