British manufacturers stage world-first drive across paper bridge

British manufacturers stage world-first drive across paper bridge

A Range Rover has traversed a specially constructed bridge made from James Cropper PLC paper in a jaw-dropping celebration of the luxury SUV’s 45th birthday.

The unique freestanding bridge was commissioned in collaboration with British artist Steve Messam and specialist British paper manufacturer James Cropper PLC, to showcase Land Rover’s flagship model, at the 13th China International Automobile Exhibition held in Guangzhou from 20 to 29 November 2015.

The five-metre bridge, constructed solely from paper and completely free from glue or bolts, was built using Natural Crystal 330gsm high-quality white paper. The paper was produced by bespoke paper manufacturer James Cropper PLC, which also celebrates its own landmark 170-year anniversary this year.

The hand-built bridge took three days to construct, using 54,390 sheets of paper in order to support the 2,374 kilogram vehicle. The feat of engineering and artistry was erected in China, the birthplace of paper, in the ancient water city of Suzhou – famous for its bridges and nicknamed the ‘Venice of the East’.

Artist and paper bridge designer, Steve Messam, said: “Paper structures capable of supporting people have been built before but nothing on this scale has ever been attempted. It’s pushing engineering boundaries, just like the Range Rover, and the ease and composure with which the vehicle negotiated the arch was genuinely breathtaking.”

The project follows the success of Steve Messam and James Cropper PLC’s collaboration on a pedestrian bridge installation over a stream in the heart of Britain’s stunning Lake District countryside – home to James Cropper PLC – in May this year.

Chris Brown, commercial director at James Cropper, added: “It’s an honour to collaborate with fellow British manufacturers and designers to be a part of this world-first, which puts our paper’s durability to the ultimate test. The combined expertise of Land Rover, Steve Messam and James Cropper represents the highest standard of British engineering, manufacturing and design.”

The James Cropper Group has well-established links with the automotive and engineering sector via its Technical Fibre Products (TFP) division, which  manufactures non-woven materials from carbon, glass and polymer fibres, used in the production of lightweight composites for car manufacturing.

The challenging drive was negotiated by Land Rover Experience chief instructor, Chris Zhou, using a variety of all-terrain technologies to preserve the delicate fabric of the unique structure.

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