South Portland Street Suspension Footbridge, Glasgow, by Alexander Kirkland (architect) and George Martin (engineer, who designed the original wrought ironwork ). This "stately classical" footbridge (Williamson et al. 196) is a Category A listed structure. It was built in 1851-53, "at the expense of the heritors of Gorbals to replace a wooden ... bridge near the same spot which had been built for temporary use" (Williamson et al. 623). Located in the Upper Harbour area, it goes between Custom House Quay in the north and Carlton Place in the south.

Close-up of one end of the bridge.

The bridge was altered in 1870-71 by the big Glasgow engineering firm of Bell & Miller (Robert Bruce Bell, c.1823-1883, and Daniel Miller, 1826-1888). Perhaps the most noticeable change was the addition of attractive lattice girders at the sides (painted white, these are reflected nicely in the water, in the photograph to the right). These have been repaired since then, but the silhouette is much the same, and makes a great impression when seen from a good viewpoint:

The pylons, of yellow-brown sandstone, are triumphal arches of Grecian construction, with square pilasters at the outer corners, pairs of fluted Ionic columns flanking the entries, and over the entablatures massive ashlar plinths through which the chains pass to rest on their saddle supports. There are two chains on each side of the bridge, each chain link being five flat wrought iron bars; wrought iron suspenders at about 1.5m (5ft) spacing; and a deck of wrought iron or steel cross beams and wooden floor. [Williamson 624]

According to J. R. Hume, the span is 414 ft, or 126.2m, and the bridge still has its original lampholders, though now converted to electricity (219).

Photographs by Colin Price, with commentary and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use the 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 in a web document or to the Victorian Web in a print document. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]


"Daniel Miller". Grace's Guide. Web. 8 September 2019.

"Glasgow, Upper Harbour, South Portland Street Suspension Footbridge." Canmore. Web. 10 September 2019.

Hume, J. R. The Industrial Archeology of Glasgow. Glasgow and London: Blackie, 1974.

"Robert Bruce Bell". Grace's Guide. Web. 8 September 2019.

Williamson, Elizabeth, Ann Riches and Macolm Higgs. Glasgow. The Buildings of Scotland series. London: Penguin, 1990.

Created 10 September 2019