Major work on bridge chains

A MAJOR refurbishment and maintenance programme of the Clifton Suspension Bridge starts this month. 

It involves painting the wrought iron chains with a protective material that will keep them in top condition for the next 20-25 years. 

At the same time the bridge trustees will install “a cutting edge, environmentally friendly and sustainable lighting system” which will replace the present lights.

Although the work will take two years to complete, the Grade 1 listed bridge will stay open throughout. 

Revealing the landmark scheme, Trish Johnson, bridgemaster, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime project that will safeguard important original features designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as well as updating the bridge’s illuminations to ensure we are reaching the highest standards for sustainability whilst minimising light pollution.

 “The project has been entirely funded through the collection of bridge tolls, and as a charity, we thank bridge users for helping us to finance these important works. We will be sharing regular updates across our website and social media so that all who are interested can see exactly how we are tackling this vital conservation work.”

A large number of the bridge’s chain links are 180 years old, having been made for  Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Hungerford Footbridge in London which opened in 1845. When the footbridge was demolished to make way for the Charing Cross Railway Bridge, the engineer John Hawkshaw recycled the parts to complete the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Engineering firm Taziker has been awarded the extensive multi-million pound  refurbishment contract for the bridge. A protective paint system will be used across the chains and parapet girder latticework and stanchions which run along the outer side of the bridge’s footways.

Neil Harrison, CEO for Taziker said: “We are delighted to be awarded such a prestigious project which will see this outstanding heritage structure continue to be enjoyed by future generations to come. It is a true testament of our reputation as conservation specialists to be trusted with a landmark that means so much to the public.”

     Clifton Suspension Bridge was opened on 8 December 1864.

Further information and updates about the project can be found at

Enthusiasts rewarded

FOURTEEN volunteer guides who take visitors on an hour-long tour of the vaults on the Leigh

Woods side of the Clifton Suspension Bridge have won a Heritage Heroes award.

The guides have researched and created props to bring the story of Brunel and his bridge to life. Their enthusiasm and dedication led to visitor numbers doubling last year.

Visitors, who also have to wear protective clothing, hear about the discovery in 2002 of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s forgotten vaults which support the structure of the bridge.

Sponsored by specialist insurer The Ecclesiastical, the Heritage Heroes awards are the Heritage Alliance’s celebration of the outstanding contribution Britain’s heritage volunteers make to society.

A spokesperson for the Clifton Suspension Bridge Volunteer Hard Hat Tour Guides said: “”The volunteer team put a lot of time and effort into developing their knowledge of the bridge’s history, engineering and geology and work hard to share the vaults with a wide range of people. The team do everything from helping visitors to overcome their vertigo to explaining how stalactites are formed and answering technical questions from professional engineers! 

“This kind recognition is a celebration of the work of our incredible team and all

of the individual achievements which led to a record breaking 2023 season.”