Cornish footbridge to medieval castle doesn't quite meet in the middle
A new footbridge has been installed at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, England, that replaces a land bridge lost over 500 years ago. The project consists of two sections of bridge that don't quite meet in the middle, creating a small gap at the center.
Tintagel is a stunning part of England that's steeped in legend and is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur. Inspired by such tales, Richard, Earl of Cornwall had a castle built on the island in the 13th century that was accessed by a narrow land bridge, but it disappeared due to erosion around the 16th century and the castle is now in ruins.
Until now, visitors to the popular tourist destination would descend many steps down the cliff and cross a small wooden bridge, then ascend back up the other side, but the £5 million (US$6 million) new footbridge is situated in the same spot as the land bridge previously occupied and makes the journey far easier.
While gaps in bridges certainly aren't unheard of, they're not typically left uncovered for people to simply walk over, so visitors may be a little perturbed to make the crossing. However, the void measures just 4 cm (1.57 in), and does appear to have some structural support, so nobody's going to be falling through.
According to the designers, the gap "has been designed to represent the transition between the mainland and the island, the present and the past, history and legend." Additionally, there's a practical element involved too, as it ensures the bridge doesn't come under undue stress from structural forces.
The graceful appearance of the bridge belies its complexity. It spans a 190-ft (57 m)-long gorge with two independent cantilevering sections that are roughly 33 m (108 ft) in length each. A total of 47.5 tonnes (53.2 tons) of steel was used for the structure and balustrades, along with 40,000 hand-cut locally-sourced slate tiles for the deck and 140 m (459 ft) of oak for the handrails.
During installation, a cable crane was employed to build the bridge in a dozen sections without the need for scaffolding or supports. One amusing final test involved workers jumping up and down on it – thankfully all went well and it opens to the public on August 11.
The project was headed by Belgian engineers Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates on behalf of English Heritage, a charity that cares for historic monuments, buildings and sites in England.