There’s no doubt that Clifton Suspension Bridge is one of the most beautiful sights in Bristol. It is the pride of the city and a ‘must visit’ for all tourists. Now, Brunel’s masterpiece might be in line for a modern makeover. The Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust have submitted plans to remove the existing lighting system.
They want to replace it with one that is “cutting-edge, visually stunning, low energy, environmentally friendly and sustainable”. The proposal suggests the illumination scheme would be installed across four levels of the bridge; covering walkways, guardrails, hangers, chains, abutments, cornices, saddles, towers and arches.
Since 1864, lighting has played an integral part of Clifton Suspension Bridge’s history. Upon its opening, the innovative use of electricity was used to light the Bridge. And until the mid-20th century, it would be lit-up for special occasions. Such as the Festival of Britain in 1951, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, and the centenary of Brunel’s death in 1959. It wasn’t until 1967 that permanent lamps were installed, allowing the Bridge to be illuminated at will.
In 1991, the lighting was replaced with an innovative Guide Lite system – consisting of tiny incandescent lamps contained in tubes that traced the Bridge. The system did not weather well though and the Bridge’s current system replaced it in 2006. By modern standards, the technology of these LED lights is now considered dated, however, with many lights beginning to fail.
The new proposed lighting scheme would be dimmable, automated and digitally controlled, on top of reducing costs. Day-to-day, the lighting control system would incorporate specific lighting treatments for specific times of day.
It would also allow new lighting designs and controls to be used for specific events. Specific colours or patterns could be programmed for key dates, such as for Bristol Pride or the International Balloon Fiesta.