Building the Severn Bridge: The Severn Bridge

Building the Severn Bridge: The Severn Bridge

Series 1



Rob Bell speeds across the elegant Severn Bridge in a red E-type Jag, hurling stats at us about its size and cost. But then he takes us back a few years – and a few miles upstream – to talk about a railway bridge that spanned the river. It wasn’t a suspension bridge, so before long a ship crashed into the supporting pillars in the fog.

In fact the construction of the road bridge is also littered with disasters, although nothing as catastrophic as what happened to Galloping Gertie, an American suspension bridge that collapsed in high winds 20 years before work on the first Severn Bridge started.


Opened in 1966, the mile-long Severn Bridge was the first road bridge to connect England and south Wales by spanning the Severn estuary, one of the most dangerous waterways in Britain. An ill-fated 19th-century railway crossing had previously existed over the Severn, but it was demolished in the late 1960s after a number of fatal accidents. Rob Bell explores the failures in engineering that led to the downfall of that earlier bridge and reveals how designer Dr Bill Brown took a radically new approach by developing an aerodynamic box girder deck that completely revolutionised bridge design.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Rob Bell
Director Phil Stein
Executive Producer Jeff Anderson
Producer Phil Stein
Series Producer Graham Cooper