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Thursday, 3 September 2015

A bridge too far?

The prompt for Sepia Saturday # 295 shows the Menai Suspension Bridge in  North Wales, heavily shrouded in fog. I'm not sure I'd be too happy driving across a bridge on a day like that when you couldn't see the road ahead, but I suppose that generally you would be fairly safe, unless someone coming across from the other direction veered into the oncoming lane. We drove up through North Wales on a trip in January 1993 but I don't think we encountered this bridge on our travels.

The following photograph from my mother Jean's first family album shows a pedestrian bridge in the area known as Pelorus Swing Bridge, located in Marlborough New Zealand. It is about 1928 and my grandfather John Morrison is posing here with his daughter Patricia, aged about 7, son Kenneth aged 5 and daughter Jean, aged about 2. John grew up in this area and would have taken his wife Mona and young family up there from their home in Christchurch to visit his parents Daniel and Mary Bridget Morrison and show them around the scenic countryside. What amazes me is how precarious this foot bridge looks, and that while John, Pat and Ken are holding onto the wire supports, no one seems to be restraining Jean in her little bonnet at all, while she peers down at the river below. Pat has a doll in her right arm, clearly more important that her little sister. Perhaps Ken has hold of Jean, but father John certainly doesn't!   I can't imagine taking three small children on a bridge like that these days. The Pelorus Swing bridge was originally constructed in the 1860's and of course it has since been replaced or made much safer, but it this is how it appeared in 1928. 

The next photograph was taken on the same visit to Granddad and Grandma and shows Pat with John, this time holding Jean on the rail of what is a slightly more sturdy bridge, but it still doesn't exactly look safe by today's standards. Perhaps Ken was down on the bank with his mother Mona while either she or one of John's brothers was taking the photograph.  Jean had happy memories of family trips to Canvastown where her grandparents lived.  I haven't yet visited Pelorus Bridge myself, but you can click here for photographs of  various bridges to be found in this scenic hiking area. Some of them still look rather hazardous.

I can't say I enjoy the swinging sensation on pedestrian bridges like this, even if there's no danger of accidentally falling off, but for comparison, here is a photo of the fully enclosed  Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, which we visited in 2001. It's 140 meters long and is built 70 meters above the Capilano River. It's very scenic, but some people cannot resist jumping about while you and they are out in the middle of the crossing, just for the thrill of it!

These two shots show a local bridge across Gardiner's Creek in my local area, after it was washed away in a flood in March 2012. It was a popular crossing point for walkers and cyclists, and it was almost a year before it was replaced with what is hopefully a more solid structure.

Here is a photograph of the kind of bridge that I prefer, solid stone arches spanning the Wye River in the city of Hereford. The Wye does get flooded occasionally, but I can't imagine this sort of bridge would ever be washed away. It has been here since the 15th century.

To finish, here is a painting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, painted while under construction in 1928/29, by one of my favourite Australian artists, Grace Cossington Smith. I photographed this in the Art Gallery of New South Wales just last Monday. From 1982 until 2005 we lived in Turramurra,  the same Sydney suburb as the artist did, until she passed away in 1984, and a number of her other works depict local scenes.  Even Sydney Harbour Bridge can sometimes be shrouded in fog with resultant traffic problems, but that's not the case here - no fog, and in 1929 no traffic either. The painting is entitled "The Curve of the Bridge".


For more bridge views, and other takes on this week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph, no need to go off driving, hiking or cycling anywhere,  just click here,

ps. Another painting by Grace Cossington Smith that I liked at the Gallery was this one, called "The Lacquer Room", of a city department store restaurant that she enjoyed in 1936. It would have been appropriate for the recent theme of Sepia Saturday  #293.

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