Sir,—Although it is notorious that many of the old bridges shaken by the motor traffic require strengthening, and although it is also known that for a sixth of the cost of rebuilding, these bridges can be made stronger than ever by means of Greathead’s grouting machine, which has been used with such conspicuous success at the Grange Bridge in Borrodale, on the Chester walls, at the Church of Holy Trinity, Hull, and at the Winchester Cathedral by Sir Francis Fox, and though it is known that this process properly applied converts a crazy, shaking structure into solid monolithic strength, one hears from time to time of an order going forth from a local authority to replace a venerable and beautiful structure by some modern ugliness in stone, or steel, or ferro-concrete, to the entire destruction of the amenity of the place and its associations; and inquiry will elicit the fact that this bridge building by county authorities is sometimes entrusted to a road engineer with no architect’s training or artist’s capacity. The idea of its being a plain duty to the present community and to posterity of refusing to allow any bridge to be built unless the lines of its arch, the proportion of its parapet, and the returns of its ends have all been well considered by a qualified architect, and unless the local material most in harmony has been considered, is scouted as so much sentiment or needless additional expense.
What I am more concerned about is the fact that, though ferro-concrete is still only on its trial, and though as yet, so far as I can learn, except in America, no serious attempt has been made by architects to give beauty of line and artistic consideration to the material, this said ferro-concrete is thrust upon the public because of its comparative cheapness, and to judge by such designs as I have seen in the catalogues of ferro-concrete makers, the artist has been largely left out of count.
“Man doth not live by bread alone,” and at a time when in our elementary schools the children are beginning to learn the worth of line and colour, and when it is to be hoped that the sense of beauty will slowly become a possession of the people, its is very well for us all to remember in Professor Barr’s words, “That a structure of any kind that was intended to serve a useful end, should have the beauty of appropriateness for the purpose it is called to serve.” And the beauty of a bridge does not only serve to provide a through rush over for motors at 20 miles an hour, but aught to provide also for the heart’s delight of the foot passenger, who finds that living thing of beauty, a stream or flowing river, is spanned by a living thing of beauty—the nobly planned bridge.
(Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 17 September 1912, p. 5)