28 October 2015
Conwy Suspension Bridge was one of the world’s first road suspension bridges. Designed by Scottish engineer Thomas Telford (1757-1834), the bridge was built between 1822 and 1826 to carry the A5 road as part of the London-to-Dublin mail route. Its design is similar to that of the Menai Suspension Bridge – another of Telford’s creations – which was constructed at the same time and as part of the same route.
The bridge has a main span of 99.7 m and it crosses the Afon Conwy next to Conwy Castle. It replaced a ferry that operated at the same location.
The transport link across the river was augmented in 1849 when the tubular railway bridge alongside the road bridge was officially opened. The rail bridge carried the Chester and Holyhead Railway (now the North Wales Coast line) and was designed by Robert Stephenson (1803-1859). The wrought-iron box-girder construction is similar to that of his original Britannia Bridge, which opened in 1850, was destroyed by fire in 1970, and then rebuilt to a different design.
The narrow Conwy Suspension Bridge served as the main roadway into Conwy until it was superseded by a modern road bridge, which flanks the suspension bridge on the opposite side from the rail bridge, in 1958. The newer road bridge still carries local traffic, but was itself superseded when the A55 North Wales Expressway bypassed the town via the Conwy Tunnel, which was constructed between 1986 and 1991.
The suspension bridge is now only open to pedestrian traffic and is in the care of the National Trust. It was re-painted in 2007-2008 as part of a £400,000 renovation project. Both the suspension bridge and the adjacent railway bridge have Grade I listings.