River, Railway and Ravine: Foot Suspension Bridges for Empire (Hardcover)
This is the story of Harpers of Aberdeen, who developed from their mid-19th-century fencing business a unique system of suspension that allowed their light foot suspension bridges to be relatively rigid, and so overcame the main disadvantage of such bridges. Harpers built in excess of 60 of them throughout the UK and the British Empire between 1870-1910, and they have been little documented, although the Harper system of suspension was unique at the time, providing a noticeable stiffening of the structure. John Harper was one of the first to use steel wire rope, now universally used. The author, who is John Harper’s great-grandson, searched the globe, found, and crossed those still in use, and describes the development of the idea, his journeys, and the communities the bridges served.
Douglas Harper is an Aberdonian who was educated in the city and qualified as a geologist, a doctor, and a surgeon. He trained in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and London before his appointment as consultant surgeon and later, in addition, as trust medical director, at Falkirk & District Royal Infirmary. In 1999 he returned to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to establish a day surgery unit. He has developed an interest in less ephemeral structures than patients and traveled throughout the UK and further afield to find and to cross the Harper bridges that remain.