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British Industrial History

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Franz Josef Bridge, Prague

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This painting, on display in the Old Town Hall in Prague, shows the Franz Josef Bridge in the distance, Charles Bridge in the foreground, and the Ordish-designed footbridge in between
Photo on display in Prague city centre
Photo of a Shand, Mason fire engine on display in Prague National Technical Museum, with bridge in background
Franz Josef Bridge. Date unknown, photo published in 1946. Note that wire cables have replaced the chains

also known as Franz Joseph Bridge and Most Františka Josefa.

Much scope for confusion here, as the bridge, completed as a chain cable suspension and cable-stayed bridge in 1868, was modified as a wire cable suspension and cable-stayed bridge in the 1890s. It crossed the River Moldau, which has been renamed the River Vltava. The bridge was demolished and replaced in 1949-51 by the current concrete arch Stefanik or Stefanik's Bridge (Štefánikův most).

The original bridge was designed by Rowland Mason Ordish, using the Ordish–Lefeuvre system originally intended for the Albert Bridge over the River Thames in London. Engineer František Schön supervised the construction work. Emperor Franz Joseph attended the ceremonies for its opening on 13 May 1868.

The main span was 100 metres (330 feet) long and 9.76 metres (32.0 feet) wide,[4] while the entire structure was over 240 metres (790 feet) long.

The steel chain links were provided by Cammell and Co of Cyclops Works, Sheffield and by A. Howell and Co of Sheffield. C. Wessely (Wesseley?) was the Resident Engineer. [1]

In 1919, following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its monarchy, the bridge was renamed in honour of Milan Rastislav Štefánik. It was further renamed after the Czech composer Leoš Janáček for a short period in the 1940s. The bridge was demolished in 1941 and replaced with a modern one named after Jan Šverma in 1951. The current bridge is again named Stefanik Bridge.

Note: Ordish also designed a pedestrian suspension bridge to cross the River Moldau (Vltava) in Prague between the historic Charles Bridge and the new Franz Josef Bridge. Charles von Wesseley was the Resident Engineer. The bridge had a central tower and a span between abutment faces of 629 ft. The width of the deck was only 11 ft, while the chains were further apart to give improved resistance to wind forces. The main chains were of steel, 1" thick, 4.5" deep, and 21 ft long, made by Cammell of Cyclops Works, Sheffield. The pins were 3.5" diameter. The ironwork was made in Prague.[2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] The Engineer, 20 Nov 1868 (subscribers only)
  2. [2] 'Modern Examples of Road and Railway Bridges : Illustrating the most recent practice of leading engineers in Europe and America' by William H. Maw and James Dredge, partially reprinted from 'Engineering', 1872
  • [3] Wikipedia - Franz Joseph Bridge