Lansdowne Bridge

The Lansdowne Bridge Rohri is a railway bridge in present day Pakistan.

A marvel of nineteenth century engineering, the ‘longest “rigid” girder bridge in the world’ at that time, was begun in 1887.[1] TheIndus Valley State Railway had reached Sukkur in 1879 and the steam ferry which transported eight wagons at a time across the Indus was found to be cumbersome and time consuming. Designed by Sir Alexander Meadows Rendel, the girder work weighing a massive 3,300 tons was manufactured in London by the firm of Westwood, Baillie and erected by F.E. Robertson, and Hecquet. The ferry link between Rohri and Sukkur became redundant when Lord Reay Governor of Bombay. Deputizing for Lord Lansdowne, the viceroy, inaugurated the Bridge on March 25, 1889.

As summer comes early to Sukkur and the heavy European – style uniforms of the time would have been uncomfortable, the opening ceremony took place early in the morning. At the ceremony, Lord Reay unlocked a highly ornamental padlock (designed by J.L. Kipling, CIE, Principal of the Mayo School of Art in Lahore and father of Joseph Rudyard, the famous poet and author) which held shut the cumbersome iron gates guarding entry to the bridge. The gathered dignitaries then walked across the bridge and adjourned to breakfast followed by toasts under a shaman (Berridge 1967:128). The bridge provided the railway link between Lahore, in the heart of the granary of British India, and the port of Karachi on the Arabian Sea.

When the great steel Ayub arch was constructed (1960–1962), railway traffic was shifted there. About a hundred feet apart, the two bridges seem like one from a distance. The Ayub arch became the world’s third longest railway arch span and the first bridge in the world to have “the Railway desk slung on coiled wire rope suspenders.” Dr. D.D. Steinman of New York, proponent of ‘vocational aesthetics’ designed this graceful bridge which cost about two crore rupees. The foundation stone was laid on December 9, 1960. A tribute to American and British engineers, it was opened by President Muhammad Ayub Khan on May 6, 1962.


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