Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Kelvin Way Bridge
Details:

Architect: Alexander Beith McDonald (1847-1915).
Sculptor: Paul Raphael Montford (1868-1938).
Foundry: A B Burton, Thames Ditton.
Repaired by:
      Benno Schotz (1891-1984) and
      Morris Singer & Co Ltd, Thames Ditton.
Location: Kelvin Way Bridge, Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow.
Date executed: 1914-26.
Date repaired: 1951.




Philosophy & Inspiration (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow

Set amidst some of the most spectacular urban scenery in Britain, Kelvin Way Bridge was designed in 1912, as Radnor Street Bridge, by Alexander Beith McDonald , the City Engineer, and spans the River Kelvin in Kelvingrove Park. It is the only bridge in the city to feature figurative, bronze sculpture groups as its principal ornament.

The sculpture scheme was the subject of an open competition held in 1914, which was assessed by Sir George Frampton , who had already overseen the selection of the sculpture for the facades of the nearby Kelvingrove Art Gallery.


Philosophy
Philosophy (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Philosophy (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Philosophy (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow


The sculptor selected to produce the groups was the Australian born, Paul Raphael Montford , whose London studio had become noted for its production of dynamic public statues and architectural sculpture. The competition drew twenty eight entries from all over Britain, its runners-up being Glasgow's Alexander Proudfoot and London's Richard Garbe, who each received a premium of 50 for their work.


Industry & Commerce
Industry (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Industry (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Commerce (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow


Chosen on the basis that they would make a 'dignified addition to the decoration of the bridge', the casting of the groups was delayed for twelve years, due to the outbreak of the First World War and the spiralling cost of bronze. Although the full-scale models were finished by 1918, by which time they had been exhibited at the RA , the long awaited casting was completed by the bronze-founder, A B Burton, of Thames Ditton, and the groups put into position, by June 1926.


Inspiration
Inspiration (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Inspiration (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow

Set on sandstone pedestals on the abutments of the bridge, the groups comprise pairs of figures seated at the base of a pillar supporting four dolphins and a lantern. The groups represent: Philosophy and Inspiration (north-west corner), Peace and War (north-east), Commerce and Industry (south-west), and Navigation and Shipbuilding (south-east).


Peace & War
Peace & War (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow War (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow War (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow War (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow

Peace
Peace (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Peace (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Peace (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow

Navigation & Shipbuiding
Navigation (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Navigation (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Navigation & Shipbuilding (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow


Shipbuilding
Shipbuilding (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow Shipbuilding (1914-26) - Kelvin Way Bridge, Glasgow

During the Second World War, the groups were badly damaged by a landmine, which exploded close to the bridge during an air raid on the night of 13-14 March 1941. This shattered the bridge's original granite balusters, some of which can still be seen on the riverbed at low water, and blew the Philosophy and Inspiration and Peace and War groups into the river, where they remained until 1951. After they were retrieved, they were repaired by Benno Schotz , who replaced the right arm of War. The original arm was found on the riverbank as recently as 1995. Small plaques affixed to the groups record their trauma and repair.

Sources:

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