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Conwy Suspension Bridge

A Grade I Listed Building in Conwy, Conwy

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2805 / 53°16'49"N

Longitude: -3.8238 / 3°49'25"W

OS Eastings: 278497

OS Northings: 377494

OS Grid: SH784774

Mapcode National: GBR 1ZQH.YR

Mapcode Global: WH654.7TD0

Entry Name: Conwy Suspension Bridge

Location: Spanning Afon Conwy E of the castle and S of the modern road bridge (A547).

County: Conwy

Town: Conwy

Community: Conwy

Locality: Afon Conwy

Traditional County: Caernarfonshire

Listing Date: 23 September 1950

Last Amended: 5 May 2006

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Building Class: Transport

Source ID: 3234

History

In 1821 £41,000 of public money was made available for a bridge across the River Conwy, part of the improvements to the route between Chester and Holyhead. The bridge was begun in 1822 and was completed in 1826 at a cost of £51,000. Its engineer was Thomas Telford, with William Provis acting as site engineer. Its design, one of the earliest surviving suspension bridges, closely resembles that of Telford's contemporary Menai Bridge, but its castellated towers were intended to harmonise with the castle, and in overall effect, the bridge resembles a giant drawbridge.
The original wood-block deck was replaced by an iron-plated roadway in the late C19. In 1903 the bridge was strengthened by adding wire cables above the original chains, and a footway 6-feet wide was added on the N side in 1904. The bridge, however, retains its original chains, probably from Upton in Shropshire, the forge of William Hazeldine, the chief supplier of ironwork to Thomas Telford. The bridge closed to traffic in 1958, when the adjacent Conway Bridge opened, and since 1965 it has been owned by The National Trust. A new galvanised balustrade was added in the last decade of the C20.

Exterior

A suspension bridge with castellated towers. Each is composed of a pair of round turrets, with blind loops, spanning a segmental arch, and false machicolations to an embattled parapet. The outer faces have rebuilt gas lamps above the arches.
The deck is suspended from 4 tiers of original chains, with a 5th upper tier added later. On the E side these are anchored to a freestone and concrete plinth. On the W side they are anchored to the base of the castle E barbican and bedrock. The deck is laid with tarmac and has a painted balustrade of diamond-lattice ironwork.
The turrets and abutments are of rock-faced stone below the deck. On the N (seaward) side is a corbelled walkway around the turrets at deck level, added in 1904. On the S (landward) side similar walkways have been altered by providing access to viewing platforms, which are integral with the main abutments. On the W (castle) side the abutments curve out to round terminal piers with stepped conical caps at parapet level. The parapet on each side has a round pier with conical cap next to the main tower. On the NW side the parapet continues a short distance, and has a gap infilled with wrought-iron diamond latticework similar to the main bridge. The E abutment is similar. On the SE side the wall is extended to abut to the later railway bridge. On the NE side a retaining wall and parapet continue beyond the terminal pier. This section incorporates 2 corbelled round piers with conical caps, spanned by diamond-lattice ironwork balustrade.
Abutting the N side of the bridge are low river walls integral with the Conway Bridge of 1958.

Reasons for Listing

Listed grade I as a major work of C19 civil engineering of national importance.

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