Clifton Suspension Bridge opening antique print published 1864. On this day December 17th in 1864 ‘The Illustrated News’ carried the above woodblock engraving with the caption, “The Suspension Bridge over the Avon at Clifton.”Opened on 8th December in 1864, the bridge project began 110 years earlier with the death of Bristol wine merchant William Vick in 1754. Vick left a bequest in his will of £1,000 invested with instructions that when the interest had accumulated to £10,000 the money should fund the construction of a stone bridge spanning the River Avon at Clifton. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, work commenced in June 1831, but was not completed until after the death great Victorian engineer’s death. Brunel had won a competition, at the age of 24, to build a bridge across the 702-foot wide and 250-foot deep Avon Gorge in Bristol. Carrying the Latin inscription: SUSPENSA VIX VIA FIT (“A suspended way made with difficulty,”) it did indeed face difficulties. Its first problem being the Bristol Queen Square riots of 1831 which scared investors away from the project, causing a 5-year halt in the building, together with the bankruptcy of a principal contractor. Although by 1843 the piers were ready to receive the chains, the money had run out, with the chains and plant being sold to another of Brunel’s projects, the bridge over the Tamar at Saltash near Plymouth. Following Brunel’s death in 1859, members of the Institution of Civil Engineers, revived the project, using the chains of Brunel’s demolished Hungerford Bridge, to complete his masterpiece in 1864.