Victoria Bridge, Glasgow. James Walker (1781-1862). 1851-4. Sandstone faced with Irish granite. From Stockwell Street to the south bank of the Clyde. Photograph above by Colin Price, 2019; photograph below, and commentary, by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2009. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL. Click on both images to enlarge them.]

Victoria Bridge from the top of a bus on an approach road. This shows the gradient mentioned below.

With its five arches, gradual curve, and general elegance of design (for technical details, see Williamson et al. 624), this is the oldest surviving bridge across the River Clyde in Glasgow. The engineer was very eminent. Walker was born in Falkirk and educated at the University of Glasgow, but settled in London where he was much involved with work on the docks, becoming engineer to both the Commercial Dock Company and the East India Dock Company. Most of the important engineers of the next generation were trained in his office. One of his early pupils was Alfred Burges, father of the architect William Burges, and when Walker took him into partnership in 1829 the firm became Walker & Burges. A much later partnership in 1852 made it Walker, Burges, & Cooper.

Walker was responsible for London's old Vauxhall Bridge (since replaced), "the first cast iron bridge over the Thames" (Smith, "Walker, James, FRS, FRSE," 755), and, remarkably, "for all the important lighthouses in the first half of the nineteenth century" (Smith, "Walker, James [1781-1862]"). An early member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Walker became its second president in 1834. Later in life, in 1858, he became a member of the Senate of the University of London. Victoria Bridge has another claim to fame: it was built on the site of the first recorded bridge over the Clyde (see "Victoria Bridge — 1854"), and it was around here that the town first began to grow.

Related Material


Smith, Denis. "Walker, James, FRS, FRSE." A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers, Vol. I, 1500-1830. Ed. Sir Alec Skempton. London: Thomas Telford, 2002.

_____. "Walker, James, 1781-1862." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Web. 14 November 2009.

"Victoria Bridge and the Merchant City." Clyde Heritage. Web. 8 September 2019.

Williamson, Elizabeth, et al. Glasgow. The Buildings of Scotland series. London: Penguin, 1990.

Last modified 8 September 2019