Treasure's description

Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash

Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash

The Royal Albert Bridge, spanning the River Tamar at Saltash and linking Devon with Cornwall, was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and opened by Prince Albert on 2 May 1859. It has been used by innumerable trains and railway passengers on their journeys since then. To celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the bridge, which was one of the last projects which Isambard Kingdom Brunel oversaw, we have chosen a photograph which shows the bowstring suspension bridge under construction. Saltash Bridge is unique in that it is the only bridge of its kind which carries main line trains using two spans. Additional diagonal bracing was applied to ensure that the chains do not change shape whilst trains are moving across the structure. Brunel oversaw the installation of the Cornwall span in the summer of 1857, and the Devon span in July 1858. For additional information on the bridge, see John Bindings’s Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge: a study of the design and construction of his ‘Gateway to Cornwall’ at Saltash, Truro: Twelveheads Press, 1997. Special Collections also holds original Brunel sketches relating to the bridge and the similar railway bridge at Chepstow over the River Wye. DM1970/7