Collection T - Archives of the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust

Identity area

Reference code

GB 3493 T


Archives of the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust


  • 1828 - current (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Approximately 40 linear metres of paper-based documents, including photographs and drawings. Also included are digital files (extent unknown).

Context area

Name of creator

Administrative history

Name of creator


Administrative history

In 1861 the Clifton Suspension Bridge Company was constituted under Act of Parliament to continue the building of the bridge: the bridge was completed and opened in 1864. Under the 1861 Act it was provided that the Company should pay to the Trustees an annual sum of £50 and that the Trustees should be allotted 200 £10 shares in consideration for transfer to the Company of the land and so much of the structure of the bridge that had been completed. In accordance with their duties under the Act, the Trustees applied this annual payment in the acquisition of the Debenture Stock and Share Capital of the Company. Other provisions of the Act of 1861 were that when they had acquired all the issued capital of the Company, the Bridge would be transferred to the Trustees and the Company liquidated; the Trustees would undertake the maintenance of the Bridge and the collection of tolls, investing any surplus in Trustees Securities until a sum of £5,000 was accumulated. At that stage tolls on the bridge were to cease and the income of the fund of £5000 would be used for the purpose of maintaining the Bridge.
By 1949 the Trustees had acquired all the Debentures in the Company and were in a position to acquire all its outstanding shares. They considered, however, that the provisions of the Act of 1861 had become obsolete and that it would be necessary to obtain an new Act of Parliament. The Clifton Suspension Bridge Act was given royal assent on 1st August 1952. Under the Act the existing Trustees were incorporated as The Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust on 1st October 1952, together with representative Trustees appointed from the Corporation of Bristol and Somerset County Council. The undertaking of the Clifton Suspension Bridge was transferred by the Company to the Trust on the day of transfer, 1 January 1953, and the Company was liquidated.

Archival history

In 1972 some of the Trust’s archives were deposited with the University of Bristol Special Collections. This deposit (referenced as DM484) consisted of 7 archive boxes, 7 rolls and 2 oversized flattened items and included letter books of the Committee (1830-1857), minute books of the Board of Directors and Committee of Trustees (1830-1900, 1919-1955), cash books (1830-1867), Registers of Shareholders (1862-1952) and Annual Reports (1861-1951). The majority of the material relates to the administration of the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust or Company, but there are a certain number of working drawings, surveys and plans (1857-1939). There is also memorabilia relating to the 1864 opening ceremony (referenced as DM2319).
Further material, which was chosen because of its fragile physical condition was taken from the Bridge Master’s Office and the Visitor Centre and deposited with the University of Bristol in 2003 (DM1929, 1 archive box, 2 rolls). These included:
• Howard Humphreys & Sons' 1972 copies of F Gleadow’s 1903 tracings,
• volumes and manuscript notes on Acts and Byelaws, dated 1830 – 1972,
• minutes of Trustees 1901 – 1955,
• tickets, programme for the opening ceremony (1864), a notebook presumably listing attendees issued with tickets, and a supplement to the Western Daily Press dated 9 December 1864.

In November 2010, the loaned deposits: DM484, DM1929 and DM2318 were transferred on loan to the Brunel Institute, a collaborative venture between the University of Bristol and ss Great Britain Trust. In March 2024 all loaned material was returned to Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection consists of material created by the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust (CSBT) and its predecessors during the course of its business. Also included are papers created by the Bridge's consulting engineers and deposited with the CSBT, these are:
Howard Humphreys & Sons and Howard Humphreys & Partners (1910 - 2006)
Flint & Neill Partnership/Cowi (2006 - )

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Files have been appraised according to the CSBT's Collections Management Policy and the the CSBT's Retention Schedule.


Further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Material has been arranged into four different principle functions carried out by Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust: Governance and Managing the Bridge; Maintaining the Bridge; Operating the Bridge and providing information and services to those Visiting the Bridge. As far as possible the original order of the records have been kept.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Current and working files are not available to the public and access is restricted in accordance with copyright and data protection legislation.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

    Language and script notes

    Physical characteristics and technical requirements

    Finding aids

    CSBT Archives Master Catalogue.docx
    CSBT Drawings Master Register.xlsx

    Allied materials area

    Existence and location of originals

    Existence and location of copies

    Related units of description

    The Bristol Record Office holds three volumes of letter books created by the Trustees of Clifton Suspension Bridge, dated 1831 – 1839, 1839 – 1857, 1860 – 1862. These items were deposited by Bristol solicitors, Osborne, Ward, Vassall, Abbot & Co in 1957, who were the legal representatives for the Trust at the time. (References: 12167/42, 12167/43, 12167/44).

    Related descriptions

    Notes area

    Alternative identifier(s)

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    Institution identifier

    Rules and/or conventions used



    Level of detail


    Dates of creation revision deletion

    Draft description created by Hannah Little, Bridge Archivist, on 6 November 2018 and amended in April 2024.


    • English



      Accession area