§ MR. J. W. PEASE
asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been called to the destruction of a large portion of the Solway Bridge, owing to the pressure produced by floating ice upon a bridge described before the Committee on the North British (Tay Bridge) Bill of last Session by the engineer who constructed it, as constructed of "entirely wrought iron columns and lattice girders, exactly the same in construction as the Tay Bridge;" whether this Bridge was inspected previous to its opening by an engineer appointed by the Board of Trade; and, if so, whether such engineer reported upon the danger which might arise from the pressure of floating ice; and, what steps he intends to take before the Solway Bridge is again opened for traffic in order to secure public safety, in the case of a second bridge of the same construction, which has proved to be unable to stand the pressure of storms or flood, and which have been both duly inspected by officers of the Board of Trade previously to their being opened for public traffic?
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN,
in reply, said, the Question of his hon. Friend the Member for South Durham assumed as facts one or two points which, he (Mr. Chamberlain) thought, were not conclusively established. His attention had been called to the destruction of a large portion of the Solway Bridge; but the Report from which he obtained his information did not state that the injury was caused 341 by the pressure produced by floating ice, and there was some doubt upon that point. He had ordered fresh inquiry to be made. Before it was opened, the Bridge was inspected by an engineer appointed by the Board of Trade, who, however, did not report upon the danger that might arise from the pressure of floating ice. The third part of the Question seemed to infer that this Bridge was identical in construction with the Tay Bridge, and that its failure might be due to the same causes that led to the destruction of the latter; but that was not exactly the case. It was true that the Solway Bridge was constructed of wrought-iron columns and lattice girders, such as wore used in the case of the Tay Bridge; but the application of these columns and girders was entirely different, as appeared from the following facts:—In the case of the Tay Bridge the span between the arches was 245 feet, but in the ease of the Solway Bridge it was only 29 feet. The height above high-water mark of the first-named structure was much greater than in the case of the Solway Bridge, being in the case of the Tay Bridge 88 feet, and only 14 feet in that of the Solway Bridge; and above low-water mark the height of the Tay Bridge was 103 feet, while that of the Solway Bridge was only 36 feet. No proposal had yet been made for the restoration of this Bridge; and, therefore, before stating what steps he should take in this matter, he must wait for the fresh Report which he had asked for.