Brunel Swivel BridgeBrunel's Other Bridge

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Brunel Swivel Bridge Project 2018

Brunel Swivel Bridge
Investigative work on the rotation of the bridge 2018

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Preparation and Basic Conservation

Our aim this year is to complete the repair of the turntable mechanism to a condition in which it can again turn for trial-turning to be carried out. Our planned work is: This is an ambitious target for 2018, so we need lots of help! Engineering experience is not essential as there is a wide range of tasks to carry out.

The track is an enormous wrought iron forging (about 14 ft diameter) probably made by rolling to a circle which must have been joined by fire-welding, ie, both ends being heated to bright-white heat and hammered together. Excitingly we believe we have located the joint, evidenced by diagonal lines in the working face. The forging is a complicated shape, remarkably accurate and a real tribute to the craftsmen who made it in 1849. We couldn't match this quality of manual forging nowadays.
It is an amazing example of heavy forge-work which should be preserved for future generations.

We plan to work one day per month, with extra days as necessary to maintain progress. We meet on the third or fourth Saturday in each month, as follows:

Sounds like fun? No experience needed, all equipment provided, and you'll get really involved in helping to save Brunel's Other Bridge. We need your help.

Contact Geoff Wallis ( if you wish to help. We need to have an idea of numbers.

Overall Details of work


As you know, the Bridge is listed Grade 2* and is on Historic England (formerly English Heritage) Buildings at Risk Register. Whilst their funding is severely restricted, HE have been supportive in providing modest grants to carry out trials and erect a temporary roof, which were completed by Bristol City and Avon Industrial Buildings Trust with volunteer help last year.

EH/HE were impressed with the Mann Williams (MW) report that resulted from the grant-funded work that we managed on behalf of the council in 2015 and suggested that we discuss an application for further investigative work on critical areas identified in the report as part of this year's Heritage at Risk programme. They also suggested that we might request further assistance in other areas via their consultancy budget and service.

Contracts will be let by the Avon Industrial Buildings Trust and supervised by their Technical team, comprising Bob Watkins and Geoff Wallis.

We want to thank Bristol City Council, English Heritage, the local amenity societies, our faithful hard-working volunteers, and huge number of supporters for getting the Project this far.

The big challenge lays ahead in securing major funding. We have a well-specified and costed scheme for repair which will form a sound basis for fund-raising.

You can make a donation by

The main donation link is:

We have created a project on to also help us fund raise for our HLF bid

or you can send a cheque payable to
Avon Industrial Buildings Trust to:
The Treasurer, Thatched Wells, Duckhole, Thornbury, BS35 1LD.

Leaflet giving information, asking for support and how to make a donation

Progress in 2018

February 2018

Our first workday of 2018 is on Saturday 17th Feb. when we have lots of interesting tasks to carry out.

Sal is away, so we need a volunteer to continue her survey of members of the public crossing the site, for which a sheet is available to fill in.

The south-west wheel and its shiny new bronze bearings are complete and ready to refit, so we need to erect our gantry, hoist the wheel from its delivery-vehicle, raise it to deck-level, trundle it to the center of the Bridge and lower it into place. Then the next wheel needs to be hoisted out and loaded so that it can go to a local machinist for skimming. They are waiting for it, so we need to extract it asap. We are getting quite slick at doing this, but we need YOUR help as many hands make light work.

If anyone prefers to paint, (or if too many vols arrive) the Dock Engineer has given us permission to repaint the outside of the little white shed, so all DIY-ers are welcome.

Finally, spring is nearly upon us and the vegetation has started growing, so gardeners are welcome to clear weeds, grass, moss etc, and generally tidy up.

As always we meet at 10.00am at the Bridge. Plenty of parking space and basic toilets are available. Please wear stout footwear, and if wrestling with the wheel you might like to bring overalls, gloves and something to kneel on. Also, it can be chilly next to the river in February so please wrap up well. We have gloves, high-vis vest and a helmet you can borrow.

Look at the reports page to see the summaries of the results of inspections of the bridge. Updated 11 January 2016

Photos of Progress in 2018

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