In 1831 the judges of the second competition to design a bridge across the Avon Gorge favoured a (now lost) design by Smith and Hawkes of the Eagle Foundry in Birmingham. Although Isambard Kingdom Brunel was eventually declared competition winner, Smith and Hawkes went on to achieve success in other areas and were famed for designing the red wall mounted postboxes which appeared all over Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria.
The post box in our exhibition is used to collect visitor’s memories of the bridge. Some are happy, some are sad and some make us laugh. We’ve collected some here, written by visitors of all ages from all over the world.
- I remember when I was little, the first time I went on the bridge. I lay down on my tummy and looked through the peepholes!
- I came to university here in 1997 and the bridge was one of my first places to visit. 2015, still in Bristol and visiting the bridge museum for the first time with my 2 boys.
- In the 1970s we used to travel back from visiting grandparents in Weston-Super-Mare, My Grandpa would drive and vary the route and we never knew if we were going to travel over the suspension bridge or under it. It was always lit up and the highlight of our trip whether travelling across or looking up at it! Mandy Wedgwood
- I am called Molly and I love the Suspension Bridge, because you can see from miles and miles around.
- I remember the old lights, and there always being blown bulbs and gaps! Also, that seeing the bridge lit up was a special treat! Jem Barnard
- My mother used to tell a story of our herd of cattle stampeding and running across the bridge (as opposed to being split into smaller groups), causing it to sway considerably. According to family tales we were almost responsible for the bridge collapsing! Michael Gray
- I remember when I was little my dad used to hold me on his shoulders and walk across the suspension bridge and I remember how scared I used to be! Maya
- My Grandfather, Henry Morgan, born 1909, was in the Royal Horse Artillery Volunteers, based in Whiteladies. They would camp/do exercises in Leigh Woods but when they reached the bridge, having been marching, they were ordered to break step to cross the bridge. Hundreds of men stepping at the same time would have not been safe on the suspended carriageway. Neil Baker
- Bristol is such a beautiful city! The bridge was amazing and I brought nearly every postcard you sold! The bridge is fascinating and the history is interesting. An amazed Londoner
- We are here for the 150th Birthday of the Suspension Bridge. It has been amazing given the choice to walk across the Bridge as future Brunels, and a privilege. We thank the Merchant Venturers for this amazing experience. Amelia
- I just missed the anniversary of the bridge, 150 years old. It is amazing and inspired my thoughts. I really enjoyed walking over the bridge and the stunning view over the Avon. It is a nice information centre that shows the history of building the bridge in a heart-touching informative way. David
- Seeing the new year in on the bridge… Watching fireworks going off all over Bristol at midnight and enjoying champagne with lots of other people!
- I was born on the day Concorde made its last flight. My Dad saw it from Southmead hospital. Olivia aged 11
- My fiancée proposed to me here on a sunny day!
- Thank you Brunel for building the bridge because we would have to go the long way round otherwise!
- Today was my first time on the bridge. I am very scared of heights, but it was amazing. It was really windy, but it made it an even better experience. It was just so beautiful!
- I’ve stayed in Bristol for 12 years, been over the bridge lots. But I never took it all in until I brought my nephew’s mother here…
- My sister and I went to La Retraite High School in Clifton and our hockey pitches were at Failand. We were taken by coach every week to play hockey, but the coach and passengers were too heavy to cross the bridge. In all weathers, we had to get out on the Clifton side and run across the bridge and get on the coach again. On the return to Clifton we were already muddy and wet. The best thing was to beat the system and hide on the coach! Carole Chambers and Hilary Parker.