Menai Suspension Bridge

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Menai Bridge
Pont Grog y Borth
The Menai Suspension Bridge from a viewpoint on the A5 near the Britannia Bridge.
Crosses Menai Straits
Locale Anglesey, North Wales
Designer Thomas Telford
Design Suspension Bridge
Material Wrought Iron
Stone
Piers in water Five
Total length 417 metres (1,368 ft)
Width 12 metres (39 ft)
Height 30 metres (98 ft)
Longest span 176 metres (577 ft)
Number of spans Main: One
Arches: Eight
Beginning date of construction 1819
Opened 30 January 1826
Design life 1893: wooden deck replaced in steel
1938/40: iron chains replaced in steel.
Heritage status Grade 1
Candidate: World Heritage Site
Coordinates 53°13′12.5″N 4°9′47.25″W / 53.220139°N 4.163125°W / 53.220139; -4.163125Coordinates: 53°13′12.5″N 4°9′47.25″W / 53.220139°N 4.163125°W / 53.220139; -4.163125

The Menai Suspension Bridge (Welsh: Pont Grog y Borth) is a suspension bridge in Wales. It runs from the island of Anglesey to Holyhead. It was designed by Thomas Telford. They started building it in 1819 and it was finished in 1826.

Building of the bridge[change | change source]

Before the bridge was built, the only way people could get to Anglesey island was by a ferry from Holyhead. The water of the Menai Strait is very rough and dangerous, so it was hard for people to use their own boats or swim to the island. The people who lived on Anglesey sold cattle that they raised. The cattle were forced to swim through the dangerous water, with many of them often dying. If the cows survived the trip, they were sent to London and other places to be sold.[1]

An engineer named Thomas Telford was working near Holyhead when he thought it would be a good idea to build a suspension bridge to Anglesey. A suspension bridge was big enough that tall ships could go underneath them. He asked the British Parliament if he could build the bridge and they said yes.[1]

Telford designed the bridge. They started building it in 1819. The first thing to be built were the towers that are on both sides at Holyhead and Anglesey. The towers were made out of limestone from Penmon. They were hollow inside. After the towers were built, 16 chains were installed. They were made out of 935 bars of iron. They were long enough to support the 176-metre (577 ft) long bridge.[2] Iron can rust. So, the people who made the chains soaked them in linseed oil and the painted.[3] The chains were 522.3 metres (1,714 ft) long and weighed 121 tons. The bridge opened on January 30, 1826.[1]

Bridge improvements[change | change source]

Menai Suspension bridge being painted in August 2005

The road that went over the bridge was not very safe because of the strong winds. Workers made the bridge stronger in 1840. The bridge road was made of wood, and in 1893 it was replaced with steel.[4] The bridge only allowed cars and trucks that weighted up to 4.5 tons to go over the bridge. This made it hard for big trucks to bring goods to the island. In 1938 they installed wrought iron chains to make the bridge strong.[5] In 1999, the bridge closed for one month. The road was fixed and the bridge was made stronger. When it was closed, people had to drive over the Britannia Bridge to get to the island.

One part of the bridge was closed for six months starting on February 28, 2005. The bridge was painted for the first time in 65 years. It was reopened on December 11.

Surroundings[change | change source]

The Anglesey Coastal Path goes under the bridge. There is a memorial to the Aberfan disaster victims at the bridge on Anglesey.

Popular culture[change | change source]

The closest town to the bridge is called Menai Bridge. British one pound coins have drawings of the bridge. The coins were made in 2005. The bridge is mentioned in Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Bartlett, W. H.; Harding, J.D.; Creswick, T. (2009). The Ports Harbours Watering Places (Reprint ed.). BiblioLife. ISBN 1-115-95868-2 . http://books.google.com/?id=NC3OxE-4t6AC&pg=PT289&dq=Menai+Bridge#v=onepage&q=Menai%20Bridge&f=false.
  2. Drewry, Charles Stewart (1832). A Memoir of Suspension Bridges: Comprising The History Of Their Origin And Progress. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman. pp. 46–66, and Plates. http://books.google.com/books?id=Hw8LAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA46. Retrieved 2009-06-13.
  3. Kovach, Warren (2010). "Menai Strait Bridges". Anglesey history. http://www.anglesey-history.co.uk/places/bridges/. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  4. "Menai Suspension Bridge". Asce.org. http://www.asce.org/People-and-Projects/Projects/Landmarks/Menai-Suspension-Bridge/. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  5. The Saturday Magazine (Published by J. W. Parker): 212. 1835.

Other websites[change | change source]