Suspension Bridge

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Grosvenor BridgeOld Dee BridgeChester CastleCathedralCity Walls#Water TowerCity Walls#Phoenix TowerSt JohnsHermitageMinerva ShrineSuspension BridgeRiver DeeCity Walls#RoodeeHigh CrossCity Walls#EastgateCity Walls#Northgate View of Chester from a Balloon
A view of Chester from a balloon : for the weather... The four bridges are the Suspension Bridge, Old Dee Bridge, Grosvenor Bridge and the River Dee Railway Bridge - in the McGahey "balloon" view from 1855.

History

A panoramic view of the Suspension Bridge in 2015.

The Queen's Park Suspension Bridge connects The Groves with the affluent Queen's Park area of Chester.

A photo of the previous suspension bridge and St Johns before the tower collapsed.

The suspension bridge is the only footbridge to cross the River Dee in Chester apart from the footbridge attached to the railway bridge. It was originally built in 1852 at the instigation of Enoch Gerrard, Esq., the "projector and proprietor" of Queen's Park, the developing suburb across the river. According to Thomas Hughes, author of "The Stranger's Handbook to Chester":

  • "It was 'a pretty object in the landscape. Though of such spider-like construction, its capabilities and strength have been fully tested".

Chester Corporation took on the responsibility for this bridge in the early 1920s and decided to demolish it, The demolition took place in August 1922. It was replaced by a new bridge designed by Charles Greenwood, City Engineer and Surveyor. The opening ceremony, conducted by the Mayor of Chester, Councillor S.R. Wall, took place on 18 April 1923. It was superbly restored in 1998 and again in 2012.

The 1923 bridge bears a striking resemblance to the 1922 Porthill Bridge in Shrewsbury.

The Suspension Bridge in 2014.

Confused Coats of Arms

The arms of The Earls of Chester are described in detail in Cheshire Antiquites (Strutt, 1838) as:

  • Hugh of Avranches: 1st Earl of Chester, created (1070-1101) - "Azure, a wolf's head argent" (silver wolf's head on blue)
  • Richard of Avranches: 2nd Earl of Chester (1101-1120) - "Crusilly, a wolfs head" (wolf's head with crosses)
  • Ranulf de Meschines: 1st Earl of Chester (1120-1129) - "Or, a lion rampant gules" (red lion on gold)
  • Ranulph De Gernon: 2nd Earl of Chester (1129-1153) - "Gules, a lion rampant argent" (gold lion on red)
  • Hugh de Kevelioc: 3rd Earl of Chester (1153-1181) - "Azure, six garbs or" (six gold sheaves on blue)
  • Ranulf de Blondeville: 4th Earl of Chester (1181-1232) - "Azure, three garbs or" (three gold sheaves on blue)
  • John Canmore: known as "John the Scot" Earl of Chester (1232-1237) - "Or, three piles gules" (three red wedges on gold)

It appears that the arms of Ranulf de Meschines and Ranulf de Gernon have been switched around on the suspension bridge.

Padlocks

Young people today have a habit of placing padlocks on bridges. These typically have a romantic message written on them - and are often known as "Love-Locks". Notable examples of such bridges include those in Paris, Serbia (where it started) and elsewhere. In 2013 there were a bondage-lovers paradise of such locks on the Suspension Bridge, and then, they started to disappear. It turned out that a local resident had taken it upon himself to remove them. However, exposure in a "U-Tube" video seemed to end that.

Flash-forward to 2014: as reported in the Chester Chronicle, Cheshire West and Chester Council have stated that the locks could make the bridge dangerous, as they could make the bridge "sway" in high winds. The Chester bridge has just 330 locks attached to its railings - weighing a total of about 24Kg or 3.77 stone. Council Engineers apparently said to the Chronicle that the extra weight of the padlocks has brought the bridge "close to its theoretical capacity to resist the effects of wind loading".

Undoubtedly fears were sparked after part of the Pont de Arts in Paris collapsed under the weight of 700,000 of the locks in 2014. To be fair enough, this is not about an extra 25kg of weight in the case of Chester, but more about the wind-resistance that the locks might create, and the potential litigation that might happen if anyone does have an accident within ten miles of the bridge and sues the Council for negligence.

A panorama of the Suspension Bridge and the Hermitage. For a short detour, enter Grosvenor Park to the left and have a look at Jacobs Well and the other relics.

Sources and links

  • The bridge on flickr