Balaklava harbour, the cattle pier
by Roger Fenton
Balaklava harbour, the cattle pier
by Roger Fenton
French painter and engraver Carmélo de la Pinta 1950
Officers of the Ninth Air Force pose with a German Panther tank of Kampfgruppe Peiper knocked out in front of the Hotel des Ardennes in Ligneuville, Belgium on December 17th, 1944. The Panther was commanded by SS Untersturmführer Arndt Fisher who was badly burned in the battle.
Helsinki, Russian Fleet at anchor.
In 1754, William Vick, a wealthy Bristol wine merchant, had left
£1,000 in his will with instructions that the money should be invested until it reached the sum of £10,000, an amount he felt would pay for the construction of a stone bridge across the gorge. The bridge would be free to travellers and would link the hamlet of Clifton and the private estates of Leigh Woods. As the proposed bridge would seem to serve little economic purpose, it is uncertain what Vick’s motive was in leaving these instructions.
Brunel’s winning entry
By 1829, Vick’s legacy had reached £8,000 and a committee was set up to decide how to fulfil his dream. It was soon realised that a stone bridge would cost in the region of £90,000. An iron suspension bridge would be cheaper but would still require tolls to cover its cost and maintenance. An Act of Parliament was passed allowing these changes to Vick’s bequest and on 1 October a competition to design a bridge was announced with a prize of 100 guineas for the winner.
Brunel entered the competition but the result was a shambles: the judge, the distinguished engineer Thomas Telford, dismissed all the entries and was invited to submit his own proposal by the committee. Telford’s design, a three span bridge supported by Gothic towers (he thought the span too great for a suspension bridge), was derided by the public. A second competition was announced in 1830 and once again Brunel submitted four designs. One of these was originally given second place but Brunel convinced the panel to award him the first prize: this was formally confirmed on 16 March 1831. He wrote to his brother-in-law:
I have to say that of all the wonderful feats I have performed since I have been in this part of the world, I think yesterday I performed the most wonderful. I produced unanimity amongst fifteen men who were quarrelling about the most ticklish subject – taste.
The Egyptian thing I brought down was quite extravagantly admired by all and unanimously adopted; and I am directed to make such drawings, lithographs, etc as I, in my supreme judgement, may deem fit; indeed, they were not only very liberal with their money, but inclined to save themselves much trouble by placing very complete reliance on me.
His design shows that Brunel perceived the bridge in terms of the grand experience of crossing the gorge, of having a landmark presence and of being a gateway to the city. Author Bryan Little has written of the project:
…with his piercing, inventive brain, [Brunel] was as much artist as engineer. His earliest Bristol activity led to the creation of a great engineering feat which he also saw as a conscious work of art… His essentially artistic conception led on to his more utilitarian, and not less famous work, on the harbour, on steamships, and on the railways.
On 21 June 1831, at the ceremony to mark the laying of the
foundation stone on the Clifton side of the gorge, Sir Abraham Elton, referring to Brunel, said:
The time will come when, as that gentleman walks along the streets or as he passes from city to city, the cry would be raised, “There goes the man who reared that stupendous work, the ornament of Bristol and the wonder of the age”.
1851 watercolour showing Clifton-side tower of bridge and the observatory (Private collection)
In late October that year, Bristol suffered considerable damage and disruption during rioting centred upon Queen Square. Brunel, who was in the city to supervise work on the bridge, served as a special constable during the riot. Business confidence in the city fell and work on the bridge was halted. It did not resume until 1836.
Brunel referred to the Clifton Suspension Bridge as his ‘darling’ but financial difficulties and contractual disagreements led to long delays in its construction and the bridge was not completed until 1864, five years after his death and as a memorial to him.
Brunel’s Hungerford Suspension Bridge: demolished to make way for a new bridge at Charing Cross, its chains were used at Clifton
(Elton Collection: Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust)
The bridge spans 214 metres between its two 26 metre high towers and stands 76 metres above the high water mark in the gorge through which the river Avon flows. Modern computer analysis has revealed that in his design of the crucial joints between the 4,200 links that make up the bridge’s chain, Brunel had made an almost perfect calculation of the minimal weight required to maintain maximum strength (the chains were taken from his bridge at Hungerford which had been demolished). In 2002, it was discovered that the bridge’s abutments contain a honeycomb of chambers and tunnels, some of which are 11 metres high. It is thought that these spectacular vaults reduced the cost of construction without reducing strength.
Although built for pedestrian and horse drawn traffic, the bridge was so ingeniously constructed that it is now capable of carrying around 4 million cars a year, and has become a major route to the motorway network. It is also a structure of great beauty and in 2006 this will be enhanced with a new lighting scheme, to be revealed on the anniversary of Brunel’s birth.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of Bristol’s cultural icons and provides perhaps the most easily recognised visual image of the city, being used as a logo on publicity material produced by Destination Bristol and other local bodies. It is symbolic of the city’s history of building bridges between different communities, places and sectors and its chequered history epitomises the clash between innovation and conservatism that has characterised much of Bristol’s development.
Stamp from the Amigos de la Union Sovietica (Friends of the Soviet Union) bearing the inscription “Homage to the USSR, 1937”
The peterloo massacre, England.
As 600 Hussars, several hundred infantrymen; an artillery unit with two six-pounder guns, 400 men of the Cheshire cavalry and 400 special constables waited in reserve, the local Yeomanry were given the task of arresting the speakers. The Yeomanry, led by Captain Hugh Birley and Major Thomas Trafford, were essentially a paramilitary force drawn from the ranks of the local mill and shop owners.
On horseback, armed with cutlasses and clubs, many were familiar with, and had old scores to settle with, the leading protesters. (In one instance, spotting a reporter from the radical Manchester Observer, a Yeomanry officer called out “There’s Saxton, damn him, run him through.”)
Heading for the hustings, they charged when the crowd linked arms to try and stop the arrests, and proceeded to strike down banners and people with their swords. Rumours from the period have persistently stated the Yeomanry were drunk.
The panic was interpreted as the crowd attacking the yeomanry, and the Hussars (Led by Lieutenant Colonel Guy L’Estrange) were ordered in.
As with the Tiananmen Square Massacre, there were unlikely heroes amoung the military. An unnamed cavalry officer attempted to strike up the swords of the Yeomanry, crying - “For shame, gentlemen: what are you about? The people cannot get away!” But the majority joined in with the attack.
The term ‘Peterloo’, was intended to mock the soldiers who attacked unarmed civilians by echoing the term ‘Waterloo’ - the soldiers from that battle being seen by many as genuine heroes.
By 2pm the carnage was over, and the field left full of abandoned banners and dead bodies. Journalists present at the event were arrested, others who went on to report the event were subsequently jailed. The businessman John Edwards Taylor went on to help set up the Guardian newspaper as a reaction to what he’d seen.
The speakers and organizers were put on trial, at first under the charge of High treason - a charge that was reluctantly dropped by the presecution. The Hussars and Magistrates received a message of congratulations from the Prince Regent, and were cleared of any wrong-doing by the official inquiry.
Starving children in 1922, Ukrainian SRR.
Executed Czech and Slovak legionnaires in Davanzo.
Austro-Hungarian trench at the peak of Ortler (Alps) during first world war 1917.
Austro-Hungarian infantry is fording the river Isonzo under heavy italian fire during the 12th battle at Isonzo (November 1917)
Stern view of passenger ship “Giuseppe Verdi” showing defensive guns. Built by Societa Esercizio Bacini, Riva Trigoso, Italy, 1914. 9,757 gross tons; 503 (bp) feet long; 59 feet wide. Steam quadruple expansion engines, twin screw. Service speed 16 knots. 2,185 passengers (100 first class, 260 second class, 1,825 third class). Two funnels and two masts. Built for Transatlantica Italiana Line, in 1914 and named Giuseppe Verdi. Italy-New York service. Sold to Japanese owners, Japanese flag, in 1928 and renamed Yamato Maru. Torpedoed and sunk by a US submarine in the Philippines in 1943.