Victoria Falls Bridge

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Victoria Falls Bridge
Coordinates17⁰55′40.01″S 25⁰51′24.15″E
Opened12 September 1905

Victoria Falls Bridge is a bridge across the Zambezi River and connects Zimbabwe and Zambia. The bridge was formerly called the Zambezi River Bridge and was renamed Victoria Falls Bridge. Visitors get guided tours focusing on the construction of the Bridge, which include a walking tour under the main deck. On the Zambian side, there is a small museum about the Bridge which is free to enter and has a cafe selling refreshments. [1]

See Lakes, Rivers, Bridges and Waterfalls in Zimbabwe.


Victoria Falls Bridge was constructed at the instruction of Cecil Rhodes, part of his bid for the Cape to Cairo railway scheme. Rhodes reportedly said

build the Bridge across the Zambezi where the trains, as they pass, will catch the spray of the Falls.

. Rhodes, however, passed on before the construction of the Bridge had begun.

George Andrew Hobson designed the trussed arch shape of the Victoria Falls. The bridge was built in 14 months and was finished on 11 April 2018. The Bridge was opened by Charles Darwin’s son, Professor George Darwin, President of the then British Association on 12 September 1905. The bridge then became a principal route for passengers from Europe and South Africa to Zambia (then Northen Rhodesia) for more than 50 years.

Rhodes was eager the construction of the Cape to Cairo railway proceed as fast as possible. He insisted that the Livingstone to Kalomo line be laid before the bridge was finished.

The Bridge Dimensions

According to Hobson;

The bridge consists of three spans. The end span on the left bank of the river is 62 feet 6 inches, and that on the other bank 87 feet 6 inches. These spans are composed of braced girders of an ordinary type, 12 feet 6 inches deep, with horizontal upper and lower chords, and divided into square panels. The girders are fixed 20 feet apart. Connected with the end posts of the central span, they unite it with each bank of the river in a direct and simple manner. The deck is horizontal and is laid on the top chords throughout the bridge... The cross girders spaced 12 feet 6 inches apart, rest on the top chord.

"The central span is 500 feet from centre to centre of bearings, with a rise of 90 feet. The curvature of the arched rib is parabolic. The panels, twenty in number, are 25 feet in length. The depth of the girder at the crown is 15 feet, and at the abutment 105 feet. Each main girder stands in a plane at an inclination of 1 in 8 from the perpendicular. The width between the centres of the girders is 27 feet 6 inches at the top, and 53 feet 9 inches at the springing level, and the width between the parapets 30 feet. There is a camber of 9 inches in the top chord. [Hobson, 1907]

The Construction Tender

The Cleveland Bridge Company was awarded the tender to construct and erect the Victoria Falls Bridge for a price of £72,000. The company was also destined, thirty years later, to build another bridge across the Zambezi, the Lower Zambezi Bridge at Sena, Mozambique, with a total length of two and three-quarter miles (4.4 kilometres).Read More

Vic fall bridge design.JPG

The contract was allocated as follows:-

  • Steelwork £21,000
  • Transport £12,700
  • Erection £27,000
  • Cableway £4,000
  • Spare rope, conveyor and tires £750
  • Excavations, exclusive of railway cutting £6,550
  • Total £72,000

Victoria Falls Bridge and War

During the Second Chimurenga the bridge was frequently closed. In 1975, the bridge was the site of unsuccessful peace talks when the parties met in a train carriage poised above the gorge for nine and a half hours. [1]

The Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) reportedly used the bridge, during the liberation struggle and the African National Congress’s (ANC) uMkhonto we Sizwe used the bridge too during the liberation struggle of South Africa. [3]



  1. 1.0 1.1 [ The Building of Victoria Falls Bridge], Zambia, Published: DATE_PUBLISHED_HERE , Retrieved: 26 April 2018
  2. The Victoria Falls Bridge, ZFG, Published: , Retrieved: 26 April 2018
  3. [ Construction of the Victoria Falls Bridge and the railway line are completed], SA, Published:11 April 1905 , Retrieved: 26 April 2018

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