On 8th December 2014, one of Britain’s greatest engineering feats and Bristol’s most iconic landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, celebrates its 150th anniversary.
To commemorate this milestone, the bridge’s Trustees have announced details of a series of special celebration events beginning in December and running into 2015.
The celebrations will feature a dazzling firework display on the evening of 7th December, to be launched from the Bridge itself. This will be followed on the anniversary day by a special procession that will provide a modest re-enactment of the opening celebrations 150 years ago, and see the bridge briefly closed to allow the procession to pass.
Chris Booy, Chairman of the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust said: “This remarkable bridge is a powerful symbol for Bristol and has such an important place in the hearts of local people. We hope that residents will enjoy our anniversary celebrations and take a moment to stop and reflect on what a significant, inspirational achievement the creation of this bridge was 150 years ago.”
The procession will start at 3.00pm at the junction of Bridge Road and Observatory Road. North Somerset Community Brass band will lead a parade consisting of the Lords Lieutenant of Bristol and Somerset, the Lord Mayor of Bristol and the Chairman of North Somerset Council, the Master and members of the Merchant Venturers, members of the Institution of Civil Engineers, trustees and staff of the bridge, local school children and many more. Local residents will be able to watch from the footways on both sides of the Bridge to greet them as they arrive.
The procession will finish at the newly completed Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, made possible by a £595,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Other highlights include a spectacular circus-theatre production celebrating ‘the history and legend’ of the bridge, which will be performed in the apt setting of Brunel’s historic Passenger Shed at Temple Meads Station. Entitled ‘Walking the Chains’, this specially commissioned play by ACH Smith combines the talents of Bristol’s Show of Strength Theatre Company and the wonderful contemporary circus performers, Circomedia.
Amongst other special celebratory events is an exhibition at the Architecture Centre on bridge design from Brunel to the present day, which runs until November 16th. There will also be a special concert by the New Bristol Sinfonia at the Victoria Rooms on November 22nd at 7.30pm, including a new work by Australian composer Chris Williams commissioned to celebrate the bridge’s anniversary.
David Anderson, Bridge Master at Clifton Suspension Bridge, added: “Our generation is fortunate in having this wonderful anniversary to celebrate. We look forward to lighting up Avon gorge on the eve of the anniversary with a sparkling firework display and hope local people across Bristol will enjoy our plans for the day itself and the months to follow.”