In his piece on the Clifton Suspension Bridge (NCE last week) Mike Chrimes raises the question of whether the competition winning entry by Brunel could have been built safely. The question was also asked by Professor Alfred Pugsley in his book of essays on Brunel, and he questioned the stiffness of the edge beams in particular.
As part of some research for a new book on Brunel to be published by the Brunel 200 organisers, I visited the Network Rail archives last year.
I was shown what appears to be a complete and very detailed set of contract drawings for the iron work of the competition entry, including a specification.
They are almost certainly by Brunel, and could easily be used to determine whether the design would have worked. Despite a year of trying we have not been able to persuade Network Rail to give us permission to make good quality copies of the drawings for research and display.
So if anyone has any contacts who could unlock the bureaucracy, let me know and we could settle this question and have some extra material for the exhibitions in Bristol this year.
Alf Perry (M), Trustee Clifton Suspension Bridge.alf. perry@arup. com