The evolution of bridges

The evolution of bridges

We’ve come a long way since the Romans figured out how to cross a wide river using timber.

Our online timeline contains some of the most spectacular examples. Starting in 1826 with the Menai Suspension Bridge and culminating with some of the most stunning bridges currently under construction.

Menai Suspension Bridge

First iron suspension bridge of its kind in the world, built by civil engineer Thomas Telford.

Main span: 176m.

Created connection for local people with mainland and also a quicker route to Holyhead for people catching the ferry to Ireland.

Read more 1826

Britannia Bridge

Designed by Robert Stephenson, son of inventor George, the Britannia Bridge's tubular design allowed the trains to run through the middle of eight wrought iron tubes, rather than on top as would have been expected.

Read more 1850

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Closely associated with designer/engineer Isambard Brunel and at 214m spans the deep Avon Gorge.

It wasn't completed until after his death. It stands as an iconic representation of Victorian engineering and ingenuity – as does Brunel himself.

Read more 1864

Severn Suspension Bridge

Designer/engineers Dr William Brown and Sir Gilbert Roberts created a 988m span suspension bridge across the River Severn which replaced a ferry service. Bridges all over the world are descended from the design and engineering of the Severn Bridge.

Read more 1966

Bosphorus Bridge

Designer/engineer Dr William Brown's bridge across the Bosphorus Strait reconnects Europe and Asia for the first time since 512BC. It has been instrumental in the socio-economic development of Istanbul and of Turkey.

Read more 1973

Sutong Bridge

Dr Robin Sham (who was closely involved in the LEGO bridge build), is a specialist in the world's longest bridges. The 8.2km bridge connects the people on either side of the Yantze River, reducing commuting time and boosting the local economy.

Read more 2008

Queensferry Bridge

The third bridge to cross the Forth at Queensferry alongside its iconic forebears Forth Bridge and Forth Road Bridge. From Jacobs Arup, the new cable-stayed 2.7km bridge is part of an upgrade linking Fife, the north and east to Edinburgh and the south.

Read more 2017

Padma Bridge

Another Dr Robin Sham marvel under construction. The multi-purpose bridge connects two Bangladesh regions, otherwise separated by the third largest river in the world. This two level steel truss bridge will have a motorway on the upper level and a freight railway on the lower one.

Read more 2018

Rotherhithe Bridge

The proposed 184m bridge will connect south east London to the Docklands, based on an initial design by Nik Randall. It will carry sustainable transport and is the only central London crossing to the east of Tower Bridge.

Read more 2020