'Mr Telford's Design for a Bridge acros the River Avon' Clifton, Bristol, 1829.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph by Bean & Monday. In 1829 a competition was staged to design a bridge spanning the Avon Gorge at St Vincent's Rocks near Clifton. The competition was judged by the civil engineer Thomas Telford, who designed the suspension bridge over the Menai Straits in North Wales. Interestingly, Telford only saw fit to recommend one design, his own. This was turned down by the committee who had commisioned the bridge, and when a second competition was held, the design chosen was one of four submitted by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Construction of Brunel's bridge began in 1836 but halted in 1853 when funds ran out. The bridge, widely regarded as Brunel's masterpiece, was eventually finished in 1864, after the death of its designer.