Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Glasgow’s bigger suspension bridge

Slightly by chance rather than intent, I found I had a pic of Glasgow’s larger suspension bridge (the smaller of the two – St Andrew’s Bridge – is a little more than a long stone’s throw along the river, to the east, but I seem to have missed it so far), the South Portland Street Suspension Bridge.

A pedestrian bridge dating from the 1850s (commenced 1851), it connects the Georgian Carlton Place to Custom House Quay.

It seems it gained some fame in 1983, seen in the TV film ‘An Englishman Abroad’, when it provided the setting for… Moscow: Actress Coral Browne travels to Moscow, and meets a mysterious Englishman who turns out to be the notorious spy, Guy Burgess.

The South Portland Street Suspension Bridge was the first purpose-built pedestrian bridge to cross the River Clyde, with the metalwork designed by engineer George Martin, and the Classical pylons by architect Alexander Kirkland It was paid for by the heritors of Gorbals. A toll of one halfpenny was supposed to be levied to cover the cost, but with alternative free crossings nearby this was quickly scrapped. No surprise there then, in Glasgow!

It seems the early design proved problematic, with structural faults on the 410 foot wrought iron suspension bridge. The masonry towers and  supporting iron chains proved to be sub-standard leading to the bridge being largely reconstructed by the engineering firm Bell & Miller in 1871, with further repairs to the deck and side rails being carried out in 1926.

It seems I got this pic at least partly correct: The fine profile should be seen against the sky, not, as it appears from most viewpoints, with a background of buildings. The pylons, of yellow-brown sandstone, are triumphal arches of Grecian construction, with square pilasters at the outer corners, pairs of fluted Ionic columns flanking the entries, and over the entablatures massive ashlar plinths through which the chains pass to rest on their saddle supports. There are two chains on each side of the bridge, each chain link being five flat wrought iron bars; wrought iron suspenders at about 1.5 m (5 ft) spacing; and a deck of wrought iron or steel cross beams and wooden floor.

The bridge retains its gas lampholders, now electrified.

South Portland St Suspension Bridge

South Portland St Suspension Bridge

The St Andrew’s bridge is only a couple of years later, 1853, some say a copy. But more details if/when I have a pic and can do a proper post.


I can dispel the claim that one is a copy of the other – see Glasgow’s Smaller Suspension Bridge

Clearly, they may both be suspension bridges, but are quite different in design.


May 4, 2017 - Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , ,

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