GeoTopoi

Places and photographs

Forth Road Bridge

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Forth Road Bridge from the south

Forth Road Bridge from the south. The main span is 1006 m long and the towers are 155 m high.

Date

26 August 2014
Location

Queensferry, Firth of Forth

NT 12534 78112; 55.98795°N, 3.40357°W

Information

Since the 11th century a ferry crossing over the Firth of Forth had served to link Edinburgh with Fife, which led to the growth of the two ports Queensferry and North Queensferry.

In 1883 construction of a railway connection started and the Forth Bridge opened in 1890. This Victorian bridge, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, was Britain’s first major steel structure and was until 1917 the world’s longest cantilever span.

Construction of the Forth Road Bridge alongside the rail bridge started in 1958 and it opened in 1964. The main span of the suspension bridge is 1006 m long and its total length is 2513 m. It was at the time the fourth longest span in the world and the longest in Europe. The Forth ferry service was discontinued when the road bridge opened. Tolls to cross the bridge were abolished by the Scottish Government in 2008.

The bridge was designed for 11 million vehicles per year. However, by 2006 the actual usage was 23 million. A structural survey in 2005 revealed a 10% loss in strength of the suspension cables due to corrosion. In light of the ensuing concerns over its long-term future, the decision to proceed with a replacement bridge, proposals for which had been put forward in the 1990s, was made in 2007 and construction of a cable-stayed bridge to the west of the Forth Road Bridge commenced in 2011. The new bridge, to be known as the Queensferry Crossing, is scheduled for completion in 2016, after which the existing road bridge will remain in use only for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.

Further Reading

Forth Road Bridge (Bridge Authority);
Forth Road Bridge (Wikipedia);
Forth Replacement Crossing (Transport Scotland)

 

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Written by Graham Stephen

August 31, 2014 at 7:00 am

Portmeirion

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Portmeirion

Amis Reunis stone boat on the Quayside in front of the Hotel Portmeirion

Date

20 August 2014
Location

Portmeirion, Penrhyndeudraeth

SH 59051 37200; 52.91367°N, 4.09760°W

Information

Aber Iâ was a modest estate on the Penrhyndeudraeth peninsula, on Traeth Bach, the tidal estuary of the rivers Afon Glaslyn and Aber Dwyryd, 2 miles south east of Porthmadog. Its Victorian country house was built around 1840.

The estate was purchased in 1925 by architect Clough Williams-Ellis (1883 – 1978) from his uncle Sir Arthur Osmond Williams. Williams-Ellis renamed the site Portmeirion and embarked upon what was to become a 50-year project to create a compact coastal resort village 5 miles south west of his Plas Brondanw family home. The former Aber Iâ mansion was renovated and opened as a hotel in 1926. Development of the village, inspired by the Italian riviera, took place in two phases: from 1925 to 1939 and then from 1954 to 1976. 28 hectares of forest, known as Y Gwyllt, around the village were purchased in 1940.

Made famous by the 1967 Patrick McGoohan cult television series The Prisoner, Portmeirion is owned by the Clough Williams-Ellis Foundation charity and its cottages, which are all Grade II listed buildings, serve as hotel and self-catering accommodation. The village itself is also open to the public for day visits.

Further Reading

Portmeirion (Wikipedia);
Portmeirion Village (Official Site)

 

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Written by Graham Stephen

August 27, 2014 at 8:12 am

St Ann’s Church, Bryn Eglwys, Bethesda

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St Ann's Church, Bryn Eglwys, Bethesda

St Ann’s Church, Bryn Eglwys, Bethesda

Date

10 August 2014
Location

Bryn Eglwys, Bethesda

SH 61038 66307; 53.17566°N, 4.08062°W

Information

The original St Ann’s Chapel today lies buried under the great sprawling spoil heaps of Penrhyn Quarry. Consecrated in 1813, it was built around 1807 by Richard Pennant (1737 – 1808), Baron Penrhyn of Penrhyn in the county of Lough, and named after his wife Anne Susannah Warburton, heiress to the Penrhyn Estate. The building of the chapel is one of the accomplishments commemorated on Westmacott’s grand Penrhyn monument in St Tegai’s Church, Llandygai.

The chapel was still included on the 1840 Ordnance Survey map. Together with the hamlet of Bryn Llys, it was, however, later engulfed as the workings at the slate quarry expanded. Its location is now occupied by the north-western end of the waste tips on the southern side of the B4409 Bethesda-to-Tregarth road.

A replacement church was constructed in 1865 by Edward Gordon Douglas-Pennant (1800 – 1886), 1st Baron Penrhyn of Llandygai (Richard Pennant’s second cousin’s son-in-law). The new St Ann’s Church was designed by Penrhyn Estate architect J O Roberts and was built in Bryn Eglwys, a new village built for quarry workers, about half a mile north west of the location of the original chapel.

St Ann’s Church was transferred from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England to the Church in Wales in 1921. Prohibitive costs of repairs to the church forced its closure in 1997 and the building was sold in 1999. Its churchyard is still maintained by the local Parochial Church Council and it is still in use for the burial of ashes.

Acknowledgement: grateful thanks are due to Rebecca Rabjohns,
Estates Officer of The Representative Body of the Church in Wales, for kindly providing some of the historical data.

 

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Written by Graham Stephen

August 24, 2014 at 7:08 am

Athena

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The wreck of the Athena, with Ynys Llanddwyn in the background

The wreck of the Athena, with Ynys Llanddwyn in the middle distance and The Rivals on the Llyn Peninsula beyond

Date

9 August 2014
Location

Traeth Penrhos, Malltraeth Bay

SH 38666 64489; 53.15301°N, 4.41413°W

Information

En route from Alexandria to Liverpool laden with a cargo of beans, the Athena ran aground in Malltraeth Bay on 20 December 1852. All fourteen crew were rescued by the Llanddwyn lifeboat men who had launched their lifeboat close to the stricken vessel after it had been hauled by horses from the station on Ynys Llanddwyn over Newborough dunes.

Built in 1840, Athena was a wooden brig (a two-masted, square-rigged vessel) with a gross tonnage of 369. She was registered in Crete and owned by Liverpool traders R & G Benn, one of many new firms that sprang up there as the African trade expanded during the 1830s and 40s.

[Note that the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales places the wreck some 600m to the north west of this location, but also gives a vaguer description of the site as being '1 mile to the north of Llanddwyn'.]

 

Written by Graham Stephen

August 21, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Bodafon Farm Park

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Highland Cattle

Highland Cattle

Date

3 August 2014
Location

Craig-y-Don, Llandudno

SH 80408 81695; 53.31861°N, 3.79676°W

Information

The farm at Bodafon was leased by Evan Jones from the Mostyn estate in 1876. Jones gentrified the original, 18th century farmhouse, which became Bodafon Hall, and converted part of the main block of farm buildings to the north and below the Hall into a new farmhouse. By the 1980s Bodafon Hall Farm was still being run by the same family and the dairy farm had a herd of 70 British Friesians. In 1993 local farmer Mark Roberts rented the farm from Mostyn Estates. As this was a difficult time for the farming industry, Roberts decided to convert it into a children’s farm park and in 1998 Bodafon Farm Park opened to the public. In 1999 the North Wales Bird Trust, which participates in an owl breeding programme, also joined the park. As well as the usual farm animals, the park is also home to llamas and red and fallow deer, and its restaurant is also used as a venue for evening functions.

Bodafon Fields is graded as high-quality agricultural land. In spite of this, however, and in the face of strong local opposition, the owners, Mostyn Estates, have admitted wanting to sell off part of the farm land for residential development. In 2011 a plot ‘suitable for 65 houses’ was included by Conwy County Council in its draft Local Development Plan.

Further Reading

Bodafon Farm Park

 

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Written by Graham Stephen

August 18, 2014 at 5:53 pm

St Michael’s Old Church, Betws-y-Coed

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St Michael's Old Church, Betws-y-Coed

St Michael’s Old Church, Betws-y-Coed

Date

2 August 2014
Location

Betws-y-Coed

SH 79578 56538; 53.09241°N, 3.79971°W

Information

The Grade II* listed St Michael’s Church, dating back to the 14th century and situated on the banks of the Afon Conwy, is the oldest building in Betws-y-Coed. Three huge yew trees in its churchyard are thought to be around 1000 years old and the church stands on the site of the original ‘Betws’ (prayer house) that gave the village its name.

Thomas Telford put Betws-y-Coed on the map by including it in his mail route from London to Holyhead. The scenic village’s popularity as a tourist destination saw a marked increase once his A5 road through the village opened in the 1820s. The church subsequently became too small to serve the needs of the community and it was therefore enlarged when it was rebuilt in 1843. A further surge in the numbers of visitors came with the opening in 1868 of the LNWR railway station in the village. A second, larger church — St Mary’s — was therefore built in 1873 as a replacement.

During the 20th century the use of St Michael’s declined and by the 1990s the building had fallen into a state of disrepair. It was declared redundant in 1996, but was not de-consecrated — at least two services are still held there annually. The building is leased from the Church in Wales by the charity Friends of St Michael’s, which was founded in 1994 and which has been responsible for its restoration.

Further Reading

Friends of St Michael’s

 

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Written by Graham Stephen

August 17, 2014 at 7:49 am

Sappers’ Bridge, Betws-y-Coed

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Afon Conwy Footbridge, Betws-y-Coed

Afon Conwy Footbridge, Betws-y-Coed

Date

2 August 2014
Location

Betws-y-Coed

SH 79608 56528; 53.09233°N, 3.79926°W

Information

The Royal Engineers built a wooden footbridge over the Afon Conwy to link the village of Betws-y-Coed with an army camp on the opposite side of the river. The wooden bridge was washed away in a storm and was rebuilt in 1930 by Westminster-based engineers David Rowell & Co. This company, originally producing fencing and later also wrought iron and wire rope, was founded in 1855 and shut down in 1970. In the first half of the 20th century it built a number of suspension footbridges.

 

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Written by Graham Stephen

August 14, 2014 at 6:39 pm

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