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An Encyclopaedia of World Bridges (Hardback)

Colour Books Photographic Books Transport

By David McFetrich
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 352
Illustrations: 250 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781526794468
Published: 21st April 2022



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Bridges are one of the most important artefacts constructed by man, the structures having had an incalculable effect on the development of trade and civilisation throughout the world. Their construction has led to continuing advances in civil engineering technology, leading to bigger spans and the use of new materials. Their failures, too, whether from an inadequate understanding of engineering principles or as a result of natural catastrophes or warfare, have often caused immense hardship as a result of lost lives or broken communications.

In this book, a sister publication to his earlier An Encyclopaedia of British Bridges (Pen & Sword 2019), David McFetrich gives brief descriptions of some 1200 bridges from more than 170 countries around the world. They represent a wide range of different types of structure (such as beam, cantilever, stayed and suspension bridges). Although some of the pictures are of extremely well-known structures, many are not so widely recognisable and a separate section of the book includes more than seventy lists of bridges with distinctly unusual characteristics in their design, usage and history.

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The author provides easy-to-understand explanations of the types of constructions, along with a glossary of terms. The bulk of the book is an A-Z listing of important bridges from all ages. Each has a description and short narrative; 250 of them are illustrated.

It’s also the easiest book of its type to navigate with 70 lists plus excellent indices. This means you can find bridges by use (road, rail, etc), geographic location and much more. Bridges that have been destroyed in wars, suffered collapses, of different types, longest, highest and so on are indexed. The bibliography is extensive too.

It’s an excellent introduction to the subject, which the author also hopes will inspire younger people to develop an interest in civil engineering.

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This book follows on from the author’s An Encyclopaedia of British bridges published in 2019. At first sight it could easily give the impression of being a ‘coffee table’ publication but a more thorough inspection soon proves this conclusion to be very wide of the mark. There is much of interest within its 352 well produced pages!

A truly astonishing range of bridges is described ranging from those built before 1000 BC right up to the present day.

The author has a background in the civil engineering industry and this shows in the meticulous way that this book has been put together. He also has an obvious passion for his subject and this comes through in the book as well. There is a great deal in this book to interest the general reader. It is instructive as well as entertaining and should be attractive to a wide audience. The author expresses the hope that young people will be encouraged by reading this book to enter the engineering profession and there is a real likelihood that this hope will be realised. Overall, a fine achievement which can be highly recommended.

The Journal for The Society of Model & Experimental Engineers - Volume 30 - Number 5 - October 2022

As the introduction states 'the main criterion of selection is simply that the bridges chosen... appealed to the author'. So this book offers an eclectic choice of bridges from around the world. Though most come from Europe and North America it is interesting to see that many eye-catching modern designs are from China, Malaysia and Taiwan. Many historic and unusual bridges feature including ancient arch bridges in various Muslim countries. There are even pontoon bridges and demountable bridges based on the principles of the Bailey bridge, notably one in Sudan.
Not all bridges mentioned are illustrated but there are lists of bridges by country, unusual bridge features (like chapels), bridges by length and even natural fibre bridges. The highest in the world is India's Chenab bridge. Few British bridges feature but they are listed in a companion volume. This work was clearly a labour of love for the compiler who has a background in civil engineering. He has added a list of terms used in bridge construction. Did you know that an orthotropic deck is 'a steel plate deck stiffened and supported by two sets of steel joists... at right angles to each other, all welded together into an integral structural unit"? Now you do! A valuable book.

Model Engineer, July/August 2022

"In conclusion this book does give the general reader a list of bridges that this qualified author values and provides a fascinating insight into man’s ingenuity to conquer gaps throughout the world."

The Society of Model and Experimental Engineers Journal - July 22

"I can heartily recommend the book to anyone with an interest in the history or architecture of bridges."

The Happy Pontist

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About David McFetrich

David McFetrich first became interested in bridges while he was at Oundle School and was given the book The World’s Great Bridges by Hubert Shirley Smith. After he left in 1956 he went on to study civil engineering at King’s College, Durham University (now Newcastle University). He then worked in the structural engineering design office of consulting engineers Halcrow for two years, where his projects included the design of a footbridge in Scotland. He followed this by moving into civil engineering contracting, and quickly progressed from being a site engineer to being site agent on a number of prestigious projects, one of which involved the construction of two major road bridges. He left the civil engineering industry in 1970 and spent the rest of his working life in management consultancy, while continuing to collect books and information about bridges as a hobby.
This book is aimed at the general reader but the author would like to think that it will also encourage youngsters into what must be one of the world's most exciting, demanding and worthy careers. Not only is designing and constructing bridges hugely challenging but it helps build the future for everyone.

Perfect Partner

An Encyclopaedia of British Bridges (Hardback)

Foreword written by Nick Baveystock, Director General and Secretary of the Institution of Civil Engineers: David McFetrich has created a wonderful encyclopaedia. This is not just a list of British bridges: it is also a social history of a nation continually growing in industrial power and might, of engineers and architects striving to create beauty and purpose out of functionality, and of the real heroes of the tale, the bridges that underpin our very existence. Bridges have a universal appeal as examples of man’s mastery of nature, from picturesque packhorse bridges to great spans stretching…

By David McFetrich

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