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The construction of bridges in Britain and Ireland during the period of 1735-1835 was marked by important technical developments and the introduction of new materials. This book is a comprehensive history of bridge building during the century, treating the administration and financing of projects as well as the designs and methods of construction. All the bridges described are of interest as engineering works; as architecture some are unimportant but many achieved real grandeur and beauty. The book is based on exhaustive study of primary sources which are fully documented, but it is a highly readable account. More than half of it consists of narratives of individual bridge projects, in which all the men involved, from noblemen and generals to country masons and carpenters, come alive for the reader. Much of the detail of these stories has never been published before. Among the topics which can be traced through the narratives are the growth in spans and changes in the proportions of bridges, the borrowing and modification of Continental styles, a halting progress towards the use of scientific theory in bridge design, the introduction of iron arches and the important role played by 'amateurs', including Tom Paine and Samuel Johnson. Over 200 illustrations accompany the text.
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