Posted by: travelrat | July 30, 2017

Menai Bridge

Menai Bridge

Anglesey: 2nd April 2017

When we left Anglesey over 40 years ago, our last sight was of the Menai Bridge, which joins the island to the mainland. This time, we left by way of the Britannia Bridge, which, if I remember right, re-opened on the day we left last time.

The Menai Bridge was built by Thomas Telford, and opened in 1826. Coaches could get to Holyhead on the way to Ireland, rather than have their passengers undertake a sometimes hazardous crossing of the strait. He had one criterion to observe; the bridge had to be high enough for a ‘tall ship’ to pass under … and the result was the beautiful structure we see nowadays.

The Britannia Bridge was originally a railway bridge, designed by Robert Stephenson … and an unusual one. It consisted of a series of iron boxes, which formed a tube, through which the trains would pass through. The system had already been tested at Conway (nowadays, Conwy) and the prefabricated tubes were rafted down the Menai Straits, under the ‘command’ of a Captain in the Royal Navy!

They were hoisted into position, and remained in use until 1970, when they were destroyed by fire …  caused by two boys looking for bats. The bridge was rebuilt, but this time, the tubes were dispensed with. The railway track was reinstated, and an upper deck carried the A55 road, which had previously crossed on the Menai Bridge into Anglesey, thus negating the need for a third bridge, which was being discussed at the time of the fire.

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