This Easter the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre will be opening a new exhibition about the lives and achievements of Sir John Hawkshaw (1811-1891) and William Henry Barlow (1812-1902), the two civil engineers who completed the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
The year-long project aims to highlight the important changes that Hawkshaw and Barlow made to Brunel’s design; most importantly replacing a timber deck with iron – a modification which has enabled the bridge to be strong enough to hold modern traffic.
The exhibition also highlights the engineers’ other professional achievements, including the building of the Severn Tunnel, Holyhead Breakwater, St Pancras Station, and the New Tay Bridge and allows the display of previously unseen objects from the Clifton Suspension Bridge collection along with tactile objects including a piece of Barlow Rail, William Henry’s Barlow’s innovative design for low cost railways.
The exhibition will be open to the public from Saturday 24th March 2018 at the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, Bridge Road, Leigh Woods, BS8 3PA. A Hawkshaw and Barlow Fun Day will be held in the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre on Friday 6th April between 11am and 4pm, when a brand new Children’s Trail will be available for families to explore the new exhibition.
Bridge Master Trish Johnson said; “It is fantastic to be given this opportunity to let our visitors know about the other civil engineers involved in the construction of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Amongst other changes, Hawkshaw and Barlow used their engineering expertise to modify and strengthen the bridge deck. Although they were designing a roadway for the horses and carts crossing the bridge, their design changes mean that the deck can still carry the 4 million cars that cross over the bridge each year.”
The project has been made possible through the ‘History Makers – People who shaped our world’ Grant funded by the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and Biffa Award. The History Makers scheme funds museums to create new exhibitions that will inspire the public through the lives and achievements of extraordinary, historical figures. The scheme is managed by the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and Biffa Award, a multimillion pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to communities and environmental projects across the UK.
Gillian French, Biffa Award Head of Grants, said; “Clifton Suspension Bridge is incredibly interesting and it’s brilliant be part of a project that is celebrating the stories behind this important piece of architecture. The new Children’s Trail will be a great way to get families involved and to bring the history alive.”