Features / Bristol bridges

Bristol’s history through bridges

By kerhys reilly, Tuesday Oct 8, 2019

Brycgstow to Bristol in 45 Bridges was released this summer and author Jeffrey Lucas speaks about how the book, his first to be published, came to be and his love of bridges.

The author worked with Dr Thilo Gross, a mathematician who previously worked on graph and network theory at the University of Bristol, and explained that the initial seed of an idea for the book came from him some six years ago.

“The first thing that Dr Gross lectures on is the Königsberg bridge problem,” explains Jeff. “That’s what the book is based on. It’s how could you cross all seven bridges in Königsberg but crossing each one only once.”

Jeff Lucas was inspired by the Bristol Bridges Challenge

Valentine’s Bridge is one of 45 on the route

When Dr Gross first lectured at the university, a student asked: “Does Bristol have a bridge problem? Can you walk over them all only once in one route?”

Dr Gross set himself the task to find the solution and after a few weeks of researching, planning and using mathematics, he solved Bristol’s bridge problem.

After solving the problem, Dr Grosssent it into the Bristol Post, who published a small article.

“I saw the article which was supplied with a little sketch and I thought that deserved more,” says Jeff. “I thought it would make a great article for the Bristol Civic Society magazine, of which I am a part of.

“I managed to track Thilo down and said ‘can I write a longer article for our magazine? And can I draw a better and improved diagram of what the walk is?’ He was very happy to let me do that.”

Jeff was instantly intrigued by the problem. Dr Gross’ solution provided an interesting walk through Bristol, as well as discovering new areas of the city.

Sparke Evans Park Bridge

Gaol Ferry Bridge

Jeff was writing the article for the Bristol Civic Society when then the idea of writing a book dawned on him.

Three years ago, when Jeff had a little more time on his hands, he came back to the Bristol bridge problem and mentioned it to one of his fellow society-goers.

Jeff says that he was delighted when the fellow said: “Well, you probably need a sponsor to get that published and I think I can find you one.”

Two weeks later, Jeff received a phone call saying, “I’ve found you a sponsor.”

Jeff’s initial thought? “Crickey! Oh, right I better get writing then.”

Three years later the result of that phone call is Jeff’s pride and joy, From Brycgstow to Bristol in 45 Bridges.

Head to Prince Street Bridge on Bristol Giving Day to find out more about Talking Money

Clifton Suspension Bridge is perhaps Bristol’s most famous

Jeff has taken all of the photographs himself and has researched over 1,000 years worth of history through the bridges.

The book will also play a part in Bristol Giving Day, which takes place on Wednesday, October 9. The public is being offered the opportunity to undertake the Bridges Challenge and donate £1 for each one crossed to the 45 local causes that stand to benefit from Bristol Giving Day.

The challenge has been inspired by the Bristol Bridges Walk which is a 45km walk that crosses each of the 45 bridges spanning the city’s waterways. From Brycgstow to Bristol in 45 Bridges is the companion handbook and offers an interesting insight into the history of the city’s bridges.

Jeff will also be giving a lecture based on his book at the Friends Meeting House on Whiteladies Road at 7.30pm on Wednesday, October 16.

Tickets are available for £5 via: www.bristolcivicsociety.org.uk/from-brycgstow-to-bristol-in-45-bridges-16th-october-2019/

Bedminster Bridge

St Philips Footbridge

Read more: Taking on the Bristol Bridges Challenge

Related articles