A view from the south bank of the river of the South Portland Street Suspension Bridge, looking north west to Clyde Street, the Royal Stuart Hotel, Central Station and the Central Hotel, c 1980.
A wooden bridge was erected on the site in 1833 but it became unsafe. In 1853 it was replaced with the South Portland Street Suspension Bridge, the first purpose-built pedestrian bridge to cross the River Clyde. The bridge was designed by engineer George Martin and architect Alexander Kirkland and paid for by the heritors of Gorbals. A halfpenny toll was supposed to cover the cost, but as there were alternative free crossings nearby it is not surprising that the bridge was underused and the toll was soon scrapped.
Structural faults on the 410-feet wrought iron suspension bridge posed a problem in its early years. The masonry towers and the supporting iron chains proved to be sub-standard, and in 1871 the bridge was largely reconstructed by the engineering firm Bell & Miller. Further repairs to the deck and side rails were carried out in 1926. In recent years, the bridge has been floodlit at night.
Reference: Bulletin photographs, Box 1, Planning Department
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning
Bell & Miller, bridges, Central Hotel, Central Station, chains, floodlighting, footbridges, hotels, pedestrian bridges, River Clyde, Royal Stuart Hotel, South Portland Street Suspension Bridge, tolls, towers, wrought iron