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.

                     

15 comments:

ScotSue said...

A lovely sequence of bridges, with family connections. I too would be very wary (to be honest - scared) of crossing that first bridge with three young children, though the image of Patricia clutching her doll is so cute.

Deb Gould said...

We have a walking bridge here, Jo -- and we used to ride our bicycles across it in windy weather just for the thrill. My goodness, what WERE we thinking?

Alan Burnett said...

My goodness, you are right - that first bridge looks like a health and safety nightmare. Great images,. as always, and as a bonus you give us two paintings, both of which I would be happy to have on my wall.

Norma Ruttan said...

I think someone would have to lead me blindfolded in order to cross a bridge like the first one. I'm nearly sick at my stomach just viewing it!

Little Nell said...

I’m with you on this and much prefer something solid under my feet. I remember crossing the river on a pedestrian suspension bridge in Nottingham as a child - I hated it and would run quickly to the other side.

Deb Gould said...

Another comment from me, Jo -- The North Coast Open (squash) was recently; my nephew, Sam Gould, is a US player -- his photo appeared in the Advocate sports section! He held clinics for kids at Coffs Harbor...small world!

Anonymous said...

You just can't beat a nice stone arched stone bridge. So safe and dependable. But I also like the rustic timber NZ bridge. It would blend into a landscape beautifully.

luvlinens said...

That swing bridge would certainly be a challenge. Looks like a thrill.

Alex Daw said...

I love Grace Cossington-Smith's work. There was a great exhibition of her stuff at Queensland Art Gallery a couple of years ago. I'm not a great lover of short stories but read Marjorie Barnard's The Persimmon Tree and other stories recently. One was about a city department store restaurant changing its theme for spring and made me laugh. Have you read Marjorie Barnard? She was probably a contemporary of Grace Cossington-Smith being born in 1897.

Tattered and Lost said...

Those are the sort of bridges where you dare your companion to cross it. Heart firmly in throat you take your steps cautiously, giggling the whole time, afraid to think too much about what you're actually doing. There used to be a rope bridge on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland. As a kid it was always great fun to wait for other people to get on it then get on the other end and jump up and down so it would bounce all over the place. I'm guessing it's not there anymore, darn it.

violet s said...

Several years ago I went to see the Capilano Suspension bridge and was determined to cross it in order to face my fear. There were several people waiting to cross and some of them were waiters practicing for their challenge of running the bridge with a tray full of filled water glasses! I was near the end when one of them got on the bridge.... but I survived. Not sure how many waiters succeeded in getting across with water glasses still full.

Karen S. said...

Oh my gosh, your first two photos are priceless!

diane b said...

As usual interesting stories and a great series of photos. I loved the Capilano Bridge

Unknown said...

Hello. I am a grand daughter of Ruby Forbes (Berry) and William Berry whom your mother Jean visited and where she played with the dog (Rex). I think the other lady in that photo was either Bess or Flo, not my grandmother Ruby.
I was taken to visit Aunty Mona and Uncle Jack Morrison when a baby c.1945. Is the violinist Benjamin Morrison, currently playing at Christchurch, one of the talented Morrison clan? Jacqueline Berry (now Mulqueen)

Jofeath said...

Hi Jacqueline, very nice to hear from you, and great that you found my family history blog. I think you’re right, it must be Flo and Bess in the photo with their brother-in-law and my Mum. They seem to have done everything together, and probably took Mum down to Dunedin with them, while Mona stayed home to look after Mum’s 3 younger brothers. I’ve tried to send you a few other family photos, but you may not get them. It would be good if you could email me directly at my gmail address and we can share more family details and photos. Thanks for telling me the name of the dog:-)