Why the Clifton Suspension Bridge is undergoing its biggest ever restoration project

  • Watch as a Bridgemaster explains to ITV News' Richard Payne how one of Bristol's landmarks will be renovated

Known around the world, the Clifton Suspension Bridge has stood proudly over Bristol for almost 160 years and, unsurprisingly, like anything that old, it's starting to show its age.

So from the middle of April, work will start to give Brunel's landmark a makeover.

Nothing too radical from what you see now, but after spending several million pounds over the next two years, those responsible for the bridge's upkeep promise it will look better than ever.

"The paint is beginning to flake off. The coatings are getting a bit brittle, so it's important we do this," explains Trish Johnson, the structure's first female Bridgemaster.

"It gets done every 20 to 25 years and has to be done by hand. There are specially made tools to take off all the loose paint and then to paint it all with three coats.

"It's going to be the same colour again. It's a grade I listed structure after all."

Trish Johnson is the first ever female Bridgemaster of Clifton Suspension Bridge Credit: ITV News

Straddling the borders of Bristol and North Somerset, the private road has to pay its own way which means every pound to cross in each direction will be used for this huge refurbishment job.

Up to 10,000 daily journeys bring in up to £3 million annually but it'll cost more than that to pay for what is the biggest undertaking since the bridge was finished in 1864.

Because it's not only a new paint job about to begin but an undertaking to see the bridge in a whole new light.

"There will be new LED lights to highlight the chains," adds Trish, "and we'll also have coloured lights as well so at some stage when there is an event on in Bristol we may be able to align ourselves with that.

Engineers added a third set of chains to the Bridge following Brunel's death - now they need repainting Credit: ITV News

"I think this is the first time we'll have coloured lights on the bridge.

"We're trying to highlight the structure of the bridge, so it'll be much more about highlighting the chains, the deck and the towers. And it won't spill out so much into the Gorge below. So it should be tidier and look much better, I think.

"One thing's for sure, you'll still know you're home when you see the lights of the Clifton Suspension Bridge."