20 NOVEMBER 1926, Page 32


THE Bridge is a subject that cannot fail to arouse the interest of civilized man. It satisfies an elemental need, and when well designed its essential simplicity and expressiveness make an irresistible appeal. Mr. Frank Brangwyn is a leader among bridge-lovers, and probably no living man can claim to have recorded more than he. Here is a second collection of his drawings, for he published a similar book in 1915. Mr. Brangwyn records Bridges with enthusiasm. They suit his quick facility for improvization, with their great forms and masses, their play of light and shade, the vigorous sweep of their silhouettes.

The drawing of Torcello is delightfully fresh, and Mostar is significant in composition ; the beasts and humans that throng the river bank and cross the gallantly, leaping arch give a great sense of scale. One cannot help feeling that " A Canal Bridge, Venice," hardly comes up to the standard we expect from so distinguished a delineator, and the Ponte Quattro Capi, Rome, gives a slight jar to the architectonic mind because of the distortion of the arch perspective. Such bridges as those at Assisi, Ascoli Piceno, and the Ponte della Maddelena allow of a more picturesque freedom than the clear- cut precision of a bridge in a more urbane and classic vein.

The plates in colour, admirably reproduced, are supple- mented by small black-and-white drawings which have a crisp suggestiveness, as, for instance, St. Martin's bridge, Toledo, but the sketch of the Ponte Sta. Trinita, Florence, hardly catches the long low silhouette that is the particular distinction of this most polished bridge, which skims the Arno with such subtle grace.

We look in vain for a representation of the bridge which, of all bridges, fills our thoughts at the present time. Waterloo Bridge has, on the whole, baffled almost all of those who have attempted to delineate the miracle of its arch-curves.

Mr. Barman's work should appeal to many kinds of readers, lay and professional alike. The technicalities are simply set down. Lovers of our cities and countryside, architects and engineers, borough surveyors and town councillors, motorists and pedestrians have much to learn from it, for it is not a book that merely deals with the activities of a remote past ; it deals with the Principles of Bridge Building, which, like all principles, are simple in themselves but infinitely difficult in application. The subject opens up a vast field.

First there is the road and the nature of the road, and the kind of traffic it must cater for, be it the tramp of pack horse, or the swing of marching armies, or the vibrant rattle of heavy motor lorries. There is no end to the problems that arise in the foundations of the bridge and its abutments, and the complementary reconciliation of pier and arch, the width of the arch, and the resulting gradient of the roadway, and the rise and fall of tide and flood.

It is not possible to enlarge here upon that vital problem as to whether architect or engineer shall design the bridge. Has the architect the structural skill, has the engineer the training in pure form to give the bridge the " quality of the Eternal " ?

What will the verdict of posterity be on the framed girder, the truss and trestle, the tube, the cantilever, the suspension, the Boiler-maker's " bridge What of the hopes of ferro-

concrete ? More is needed than skill in structural dynamics. Finally, the pressing question of, the preservation of our

bridges in these days of change demands clear thought and vigorous and concerted artisan'. _ - -HUBERT Woainev.