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Menai Bridge

Menai Suspension Bridge (Pont Grog y Borth)

Menai Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 12, 2018

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
A5 (London to Holyhead Road) Over Menai Strait (Afon Menai)
Location
Menai Bridge (Porthaethwy) (Y Borth) and Bangor: Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Môn), Wales (Cymru) and Gwynedd, Wales (Cymru): United Kingdom
Structure Type
Metal Pony Truss Stiffening Eyebar Chain Suspension, Fixed and Approach Spans: Stone Semicircular Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1862 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown and Engineer/Design: Thomas Telford

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1940
Main Span Length
577 Feet (176 Meters)
Structure Length
1,368 Feet (417 Meters)
Roadway Width
24 Feet (7.32 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 7 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Historical Book: A Description of the Suspension Bridge

View Historical Book: The Most Correct Detail of the Grand Suspension Bridge

View Historical Book: A Descriptive Sketch of Bangor, The Suspension Bridge Over The Menai

View Historical Articles About This Bridge

The Menai Bridge is one of the most famous eyebar chain suspension bridges in the UK, and it has a combination of 1826 and and 1940 materials. The bridge was originally built using wrought iron chains in 1826. After its completion, additional improvements were made to stiffen the deck in 1840 and 1893 to address swaying in the wind. In 1938-1940 a major alteration of the bridge took place when all-new steel eyebar chains were installed as replacements for the originals. Additionally, the previous stiffening was replaced with rivet-connected Warren pony trusses. Historical images show that a lattice girder stiffening was in place for much of this bridge's history.

Although substantially altered, the original design intent by Thomas Telford (an eyebar chain suspension bridge) was maintained, so the bridge is considered to be a bridge of high historic significance. Also, the towers and approach arch spans are original 1826 construction. Further, any eyebar chain suspension design (even one from 1940) is historically significant.

At the south end of the bridge, the eyebars pass over the approaching roadway and enter an impressive anchorage structure.

An unusual detail of this bridge is that the back-stay portion of the bridge's chain contains suspenders even through these sections of the bridge are supported by stone arch spans. It is assumed the suspenders do not provide load-bearing function (that being accomplished by the stone arch spans in this area), thus the suspenders may simply be to stiffen the eyebar chain.

Above: ca. 1875 photo showing the original wrought iron eyebar chains. Photo Credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru - The National Library of Wales

Above: ca. 1875 photo showing the original wrought iron eyebar chains. Photo Credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru - The National Library of Wales

Above: ca. 1840 image of bridge showing original wrought iron eyebar chains and a lattice girder stiffening on the bridge. Photo Credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru - The National Library of Wales

Above: ca. 1840 image of bridge showing original wrought iron eyebar chains and a lattice girder stiffening on the bridge. Photo Credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru - The National Library of Wales

Above: ca. 1840 image of bridge showing original wrought iron eyebar chains and a lattice girder stiffening on the bridge. Also to the far left and right note the riveted lattice toll gates of a design matching the one surviving next to the south anchorage today. Photo Credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru - The National Library of Wales

Above: A preliminary design sketch of the bridge. Note how much different the bridge looks in this drawing.

Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings

Listed At: Grade I

Discussion:

Reference Numbers: 18572 and 4049

History
Built 1818 to 1826 by Thomas Telford. This renowned bridge completed the London to Holyhead Turnpike Road. The site was chosen because of its steep bankis enabling the erection of a high bridge to satisfy the Admiralty's requirements. The construction was a development of Telford's own design for an unexecuted bridge over the Mersey and that by Captain Brown over the Tweed. Opened 30 January 1826 - 100ft high, 28ft wide roadway and with a single suspended span of 579ft; 130ft longer than any previously built bridge. Reconstructed 1938-40 by Sir Alexander Gibb.

Exterior
Coursed rubble Penmon masonry with ashlar facings to the tapered suspension towers or 'pyramids' from which the deck is hung on a system of 16 chains (originally iron, now steel) with pins. These are carried down at either end to a point deep in the rock. 4 arches to Anglesey side and 3 to Bangor side, over tapered piers; voussoirs, impost bands and bracket cornice above. The later metal pedestrial walkways are further bracketed out; originally there was just the narrow central pavement. Each carriageway passes under the towers through semicircular arched openings, matched above by paired blind recesses over inscribed tablets. The handrails continue as far as the low tapered piers with pyramidal caps at each end and on the mainland side trellised railings continue to either side and sweep round to terminate in similar piers with panelled recesses. At the mainland end the suspending members are taken into the former Toll House, a low 3-storey classical ashlar faced building with channelled rustication to ground floor. 3-bay front facing bridge with broad and taller end pilasters and arched entries; central bay advanced and taller and flanking bays have 12-pane sash windows below blind recessed panels; arched openings to ground floor 'loggia'. 2-bay side elevations with similar detail. The building ramps down at rear which is part modernised. Later toll houses were built at either end of the bridge.

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Maps and Links: Menai Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
53.220048,-4.163099

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