The Clifton Suspension Bridge is widely regarded as the icon of the city of Bristol. Its spectacular setting and association with Brunel make it a ‘must see’ attraction for visitors to the city and a much-loved place for local residents, who are fiercely proud of it. Designed in 1830-31 by Brunel, and completed in 1864 to an amended design, today it takes 11,000 motor vehicles every day and countless pedestrians and cyclists. The Bridge is operated and maintained by the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust (CSBT).
Mike Rowland, the Visitor Services Manager, participated in the city-wide planning of Brunel 200 events and runs tours of the bridge for members of the public and school groups. However until recently, there was no central meeting point for groups, or an indoor area for talks, exhibitions or merchandise.
On 27 May 2006, a temporary visitor centre opened, offering members of the public passing by, an opportunity to learn more about the bridge, and use the gift shop. The success of the centre has encouraged the CSBT in its efforts to provide a more permanent and comprehensive facility. The numbers below illustrate a very successful year:
From 01 January 2006 to 9 November 2006 there have been 202 pre-arranged guided tours for groups:
Since 27 May 2006, there have been 38 free guided tours for the public on weekends and bank holidays.
Exclusive of tours, the visitor centre has recorded a massive 37,500 visitors since opening in May 2006.
Most impressively, the Suspension Bridge was the focus of the celebrations on the Brunel 200 launch weekend.
Some of the many hundreds of comments from visitors to the bridge can be seen below:
"...this is the best place of interest in Bristol..."
“Super collection, good luck for a future museum.”
“Cool but a bit scary!”
“The very size of it all is inspirational.”
“Proud of the city, and all it stands for.”
“Excellent, thanks, keep going forward…”
“Always wanted to see the bridge, and am not disappointed.”
“An hour well spent, I didn’t think a bridge could be so interesting.”
“Wonderful icon for Bristol.”
“Deserves all the support it can get – a National Treasure.”
“Very educational – let’s hope it comes up in a pub quiz.”
“It’s our heritage.”
“Quite beautiful and humbling.”
“The bridge engineering is really interesting and I still can’t believe it!”
“Excellent first rate visitor centre. We thoroughly