Rob Bell explores the history and construction of the world's first bridge to be constructed entirely from iron, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
Opened in 1966, the 1.6km-long Severn Bridge was the first road bridge to connect England and south Wales by spanning the Severn estuary, one of the most dangerous waterways in Britain. An ill-fated 19th-century railway crossing had previously existed over the Severn, but it was demolished in the late 1960s after a number of fatal accidents. Rob Bell explores the failures in engineering that led to the downfall of that earlier bridge and reveals how designer Dr Bill Brown took a radically new approach by developing an aerodynamic box girder deck that completely revolutionised bridge design.
At 343 metres, the Millau Viaduct over the Tarn gorge in southern France is the world's tallest bridge and considered by many to be the world's most beautiful. Engineer Rob Bell meets the design team, including architect Norman Foster and structural engineer Dr Michel Virlogeux, and learns about the innovative and ancient techniques used to build it. London's Millennium Bridge, Foster's pedestrian-only thoroughfare, is also featured, including what caused its infamous initial wobble and how it was rectified.
Everything from its enormous size to its Art Deco styling and its unmistakable colour make San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge an icon of world design. Rob Bell explores the fascinating history of an edifice that people claimed was impossible to build, and those who created it anyway. Joseph Strauss was the arrogant showman promoting the project, while Charles Ellis and Leon Moisseiff were the mathematical geniuses behind the Golden Gate's cutting-edge design. Since its completion in 1937, it has received a staggering 10 million tourists every year.
Engineer Rob Bell recounts the story of the Brooklyn Bridge in a classic New York tale featuring big money, corruption, ambition and tragedy. Over a mile in length, the bridge connects the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan, spanning the East River. A feat of pioneering 19th-century technology, it took 14 years to build, but its construction was dogged by bad luck from the start; John Roebling, the man responsible for its pioneering design, died in an accident before the build even began. It finally opened in 1883.
Sydney Harbour Bridge, the world's tallest and widest steel arched bridge, was completed in 1932, more than a century after its initial proposal. Connecting the northern suburbs with the city centre, its completion brought together a city divided not just by water but by cultural differences. As engineer Rob Bell reveals, John Bradfield was so determined to build the bridge that he dedicated more than 20 years of his life to its construction, travelling the world to employ the very best builders and engineers, who utilised the very latest technologies and techniques of their time.
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