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The Royal Albert Bridge is one of the most impressive bridges in the UK and indeed the world. Built in 1859, this bridge's 455 truss spans represented an unimaginable span length for metal truss bridges at the time. Even more impressive, these spans were assembled along the nearby shore, floated into position and slowly lifted into their place high above the river (100 feet of navigation clearance) as the end piers were constructed. Even today in bridge construction, moving a pre-fabricated span of 455 feet would be worthy of a news article. Imagine what an impressive feat this would have been in 1859.
This unique bridge was one of the crowning achievements of famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He died shortly after the bridge was completed, and the bridge had his name added to the portals in honor of him. Brunel's design here resulted in one of the first lenticular truss bridges in the world, using a unique massive tubular top chord.
This bridge remains in good condition today and continues to serve rail traffic. It was rehabilitated in 2010-2014. The historic integrity of the two main spans is good, although some alterations have taken place care has been made to preserve and not alter the original design details created by Brunel. An exception is the approach spans of the bridge. The original Brunel designed plate girder approach spans (which were similar to the deck-level girders that remain on the main truss spans) were replaced ca. 1905 with standard looking riveted plate girders.
Above: This historical image shows the assembly of one of the truss spans along the river.
Above: This photo shows the second truss span being slowly lifted into place as the far pier was constructed.
Above: This historical photo shows the original approach plate girder spans.
Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings
Listed At: Grade I
List Entry Number: 1159292
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