There are many gaps in the story of Harper Bridges. Some of these have been filled by people whose curiosity has led them to the site. You may be able to help.
There is a possibility that two early bridges went out to Australia around 1879, through J. Young, a civil engineer based in Circular Quay, Sydney. The trail of these wooden posted bridges has gone cold. Were they dispatched and did they arrive; where were they built and how long did they survive?
In Louis Harper's application to become an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1893, he includes as part of his portfolio of bridges, one ‘over the Dee near Chester’. I have not as yet identified this bridge, presumably built between 1887 and 1893. It clearly hasn’t survived but does anyone have any information?
I have had much help in my attempts to trace the Darwin Harbour bridge in the Falkland Islands from the local Department of Highways and the Stanley Museum, without success. Louis Harper mentioned this bridge in his application to become an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. The Stanley Museum kindly sent me a photograph of a truss pier-supported bridge, dating from 1910, across a section of the harbour and I can only surmise that the Harper suspension bridge must have preceded it from about 1890 to 1910. The bridge may have been overcome by the weather, despite its system of suspension.
Where was this bridge and has anyone seen a photograph?
John Harper was reported as saying that the coffee plantations of Sri Lanka (and Africa) were the destination for early bridges. They were built with wooden masts and will be long gone. It’s likely that photographs were taken to record such an unusual event. I wonder where they were/are?
India & Nepal
The ‘Bombay’ Bridge location has eluded me. In addition, there are likely to be more bridges in northern India and Nepal. Arthur Hoare ordered four in the 1890s and we know something about three of them as well as the locations of two.
Recently, thanks to a friend Peter Langridge, we have discovered a photograph of the remains of a Harper bridge at Port Maria, Jamaica. We are sure there are others. Louis Harper received the following testimonial from John Birch & Co., Ltd, Engineers London, suggesting that Harpers had supplied more than one to the West Indies:
‘We learn that the last bridge, of 110 feet span, which you supplied us with for the West Indies, is satisfactorily erected, and looks very well. Our client thinks that it is amply rigid, and makes no complaint of any kind. We have been promised a photograph shortly, if they have an opportunity of taking one.’
It’s a pity the photograph has not turned up. These would have been lattice steel-masted bridges and would have survived until recent times at least. The one at Port Maria was swathed in concrete, but the Harper finial is still visible. Others will share this feature.
Where are the others in the West Indies?
Many have kindly made contact after seeing the website or reading the book. I am very grateful for the time and trouble they gone to and many have become friends.
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