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Cenarth Bridge
River Teifi, Cenarth, Camarthenshire, Wales, UK
Cenarth Bridge
associated engineer
David Edwards
Richard Kyrke Penson
date  1785 - 1787
era  Georgian  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SN268416
ICE reference number  HEW 166
photo  © Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales | © Hawlfraint y Goron: Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru
Cenarth Bridge over the River Teifi carries the A484 road at Cenarth Falls, a known salmon leap. Its design is attributed to David Edwards, son of William Edwards the builder of Pontypridd Old Bridge (William Edwards Bridge). It is Grade II* listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
A bridge has existed at this spot since at least the 12th century — records show a bridge here in 1188. The present bridge, originally on the turnpike (toll) road from Carmarthen to Ceredigion, was constructed in 1785-87. It is likely to have been designed by David Edwards (b.1748), who was also responsible for Llandilo Yr Ynys Bridge (completed 1786) and Newport Bridge over the River Usk (built 1794-1801, dem. 1927).
Cenarth Bridge is of rubble stone and ashlar masonry, founded on rock. It has three broad elliptical segmental arches with slightly recessed arch rings. The spans between piers measure 11.6m, 11.9m and 12.2m. The bridge’s roadway is 4.75m wide and is without footways. Its parapet walls feature slate copings.
The two spandrel panels that are above the river piers are pierced by 1.8m diameter holes, forming cylindrical passages through the masonry. They are designed to reduce structural weight of the bridge, and they allow floodwaters to pass through, rather than over, the structure.
Edwards’ father, self-taught engineer and non-conformist minister William Edwards (1719-89), pioneered the technique of using circular openings through the heaviest parts of a structure. He first used it on the single-span Pontypridd Old Bridge (completed 1756, now known as William Edwards Bridge), once the longest stone arch in Britain.
The local Quarter Sessions Accounts for 1787 show payment for the bridge to David Edwards of £2 12s 6d (£2.63) for half his fee, making his total fee £5.25 — worth between £6,600 and £9,100 pounds in 2014.
In 1852, Richard Kyrke Penson (1815-85), son of Thomas Penson junior (1790-1859), widened the north west bridge approach with a splayed sidewall. This made the right-angled bend at the north end of the bridge a little easier to negotiate.
The bridge was Grade II* listed in the 1960s, and is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument (Cm17). It has a speed restriction of 20mph (32kph).
Contractor: Messrs Watkins & Webb
Research: ECPK
"Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion" by Thomas Lloyd, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield, Pevsner Architectural Guides, Volume 6 The Buildings of Wales, Yale University Press, 2006
reference sources   BDCE1

Cenarth Bridge