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Bigsweir Bridge

Bigg's Weir Bridge

Bigsweir Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 11, 2018

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
A466 Over River Wye (Afon Gwy)
St. Briavels and Llandogo (Llaneuddogwy): South West, England and Monmouthshire, Wales (Cymru): United Kingdom
Structure Type
Metal (Cast Iron) Hingeless Deck Arch, Fixed and Approach Spans: Stone Segmental Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1827 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown and Engineer/Design: Charles Hollis of London, England
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
164.0 Feet (50 Meters)
Structure Length
325.0 Feet (99.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
16.4 Feet (5 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 4 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This is a beautiful and graceful cast iron arch bridge. Compared to some cast iron arch bridges, this example has a relatively simple, almost modern appearance when viewed from a distance. Up close however the many intricate bracing struts and connection details are apparent, testimony to the detail of the cast iron design. The bridge carries a fair amount of traffic as a one-lane bridge controlled by signals. It has a few bolted alterations and additions to the cast iron but is generally complete with excellent historic integrity. A toll house survives next to the bridge as well.

Reportedly the stone arch approach spans are "flood arches" that are not original to the bridge, although they are very old. A stone plaque was found on these spans but only a couple names remained legible.

Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings

Listed At: Grade II*


List Entry Number: 1186622
Wales Reference Number 24916

Road bridge over river Wye. Built 1826-29. Cast iron and sandstone. A broad central clear span in four cast iron arches with W-strutting rising to a slight hump-back, to extended sandstone abutments including two flat segmental arches each side. Simple handrail over diagonally set balusters with indent mould except where replaced in C20, all in cast iron. Abutments rise from heavy roll mould to parapet with capping, run back in segments to circular terminal piers, then continued walls similarly on either side over the stone segmental arches. Main handrails at circa 5 metre centres, and the round piers circa 8 metre centres. The iron-work was cast at Merthyr Tydfil.

Discussion From Wales:

This bridge was constructed as a part of the Wye Valley turnpike which was opened in 1829. It was designed by Charles Hollis of London. The road was built jointly by the Chepstow and Monmouth Turnpike Trustees and was designed to improve access to the Wye valley and its industries which were previously easily reachable only by boat. The land spans are said to have been added in the mid C19, but it has not been altered since.

The bridge abutments and land spans are constructed of red sandstone ashlar, while the river span is of cast and wrought iron. The abutments are part of a causeway which rises to give headroom over the river. There are two semi-circular flood arches on either bank. The wall is coped and then carries plain cast iron railings running between circular stone piers. The actual abutment is slightly wider than the causeway and carries a cornice and parapet. The tollhouse abuts the north west side of the causeway, but this has been altered. Single elliptical river span of 164' (50m) carried on four cast iron ribs. These arch ribs are in sixteen segments and were cast in Merthyr Tydfil. Continuous cast iron parapet which carries the railings. The gaps between the ribs and the parapets are open and are criss-crossed with diagonal wrought iron tension bars. The bridge is unaltered apart from having been made into a single carriageway to prevent over heavy use. The eastern half of the bridge is in St Briavels CP, Gloucestershire.

Reason for designation
Included and highly graded as a fine example of a single span turnpike bridge designed by Charles Hollis, but very much in the manner of Thomas Telford. Scheduled Ancient Monument MM165(MON).


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