This is a prime example of engineering excellence that Leeds once showcased in an effort to impress some of the brightest minds worldwide.
Now, a meticulously detailed recreation of the historic Crown Point Bridge is set to be featured in a thoughtfully curated new exhibition at Leeds Industrial Museum, showcasing remarkable achievements.
The incredibly precise model was initially exhibited at the inaugural Great Exhibition in London in 1851, aimed at reaffirming Britain’s status as a global industrial leader.
This esteemed event attracted renowned engineers, scientists, intellectuals, and inventors from around the world, who marvelled at each other’s accomplishments alongside esteemed guests such as Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens.
The model of the Crown Point Bridge illustrated the cutting-edge techniques employed at the time to construct not only one of the city’s vital access points but also an exceptionally elaborate and aesthetically pleasing piece of civil engineering.
The highly esteemed bridge, designed by the father-and-son engineering duo George and John Wignall Leather, was erected in 1842 and played a significant role in the development of the Leeds area during that period.
This Grade II-listed bridge, constructed from over 400 tonnes of cast iron forged in a Sheffield ironworks, was opened to the public in July 1842.
The recreated bridge will be a prominent feature in “Engineering,” a fresh exhibition at Leeds Industrial Museum, coinciding with the forthcoming 300th anniversary of Leeds’s own John Smeaton, hailed as the Father of Civil Engineering, born in 1724.
In addition to delving into Smeaton’s life and contributions, the exhibition will display key objects from his journey, including a lathe he crafted as a young engineer at his home in Austhorpe, Leeds, and a medal bestowed upon him in 1787 by the Royal Society of Arts.
These will be showcased alongside more contemporary engineering examples, such as the cylinder head from a Land Rover and a ventilator devised and manufactured during the COVID-19 pandemic, utilised in over 130 NHS hospitals.
Also on view will be a vintage theodolite for measuring and surveying, and an antique surveyor’s compass, also known as a circumferentor, used for gauging horizontal angles.
John McGoldrick, Leeds Museums and Galleries curator of industrial history said: “The Crown Point Bridge model is a fantastic example of how engineering has not only left its mark on history as a whole, but has also been a huge source of civic pride and local identity.
“John Smeaton was the very first person to describe himself as a civil engineer, and since he coined that phrase, his successors have followed in his illustrious footsteps, designing and constructing countless projects which have shaped and defined the town and cities we live in.
“Engineering impacts almost every aspect of our lives, from the roads and buildings we use every day, to machines which help us in industry, production, transport and healthcare.
“This exhibition will chart the journey which began with John Smeaton, and which has continued through the centuries thanks to the many innovators who came after him.”
“Engineery” is held in collaboration with Leeds 2023 and is part of the Smeaton300 programme taking place throughout the city to honour Smeaton’s life and legacy.
It will coincide with a concurrent exhibition by the Young Smeatonians and will be complemented by a series of events and activities.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Leeds has a unique and historic legacy in the field of civil engineering, and is the birthplace of John Smeaton, a true pioneer in the field.
“His legacy changed the face of our city and many others and has created a fascinating and historic story which we’re proud to be celebrating three centuries later.”
For more information about Smeaton 300, please visit smeaton300.co.uk.
For further details about Leeds 2023, visit leeds2023.co.uk.
“Engineery” will be hosted at Leeds Industrial Museum starting from October 27. For additional information, visit: Engineery – Leeds Museums & Galleries https://museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk/events/leeds-industrial-museum/engineery/