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Abermule Bridge, Brynderwen
River Severn, Abermule, Powys, Wales, UK
Abermule Bridge, Brynderwen
associated engineer
Thomas Penson jnr
date  1852 - 1853
UK era  Victorian  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SO161952
ICE reference number  HEW 342
photo  © Kevin Skidmore and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
An elegant arch bridge over the River Severn, between Abermule and Brynderwen. It was the second cast iron bridge to be built in Montgomeryshire (now Powys) — the first was at Llandinam. Now Grade II* listed and in good repair, it carries a minor road and remains in use.
Abermule Bridge was designed by the County Surveyor of Montgomeryshire, Thomas Penson junior (1790-1859), to replace a timber predecessor, sited 300m downstream. Apparently, Penson had been involved in the reconstruction of this timber bridge in 1830. It was eventually destroyed by flood in 1851.
The ironwork for the present bridge was cast in 1852 by Brymbo Company Iron Founders, established near Wrexham by John Wilkinson (1728-1808) in 1796. The bridge’s single span measures 33.5m between its rough-dressed stone abutments. The faces of the abutment are sloped to receive the ends of the arch, and their curved wing walls terminate in piers surmounted by ashlar masonry pillars with pyramidal coping.
The arch has a rise of 3.7m and consists of five ribs, each constructed using seven bolted segments. The ribs are 840mm deep with flanges 125mm wide and webs 50mm thick. The spandrels consist of intersecting cruciform struts, arranged as X-shaped pairs, with alignments varying to suit the changing spandrel depth. Transverse arch stiffening is provided by rectangular diaphragms at the rib segment joints, circular tie rods at the X centres and horizontal lattice bracing over the top of the ribs.
Openwork cast iron lettering forms the webs of the outer arch ribs, and read: "THIS SECOND IRON ARCH BRIDGE CONSTRUCTED IN THE COUNTY OF MONTGOMERY WAS ERECTED IN THE YEAR 1852". The webs of the inner three ribs consist of criss-cross lattices.
The horizontal bridge deck is of cast iron plates between the 1.2m high cast iron parapet rails, which continue over the abutments to the piers. Laid over the plates is a macadam road surface, with a narrow footpath on the west side.
The road over Abermule Bridge continues over the Montgomeryshire Canal (Western Branch, completed 1821) on a second iron bridge (No.147, SO161951) immediately adjacent, to the north west. It was cast in 1853, also by Brymbo Company Iron Founders and it too was probably designed by Penson, perhaps as a replacement for an earlier structure.
The second bridge is a simple beam spanning 4.9m between brick abutments, with seven girders 355mm deep and 190mm wide. Its cast iron handrails match those of the main bridge.
A brick pier, probably of a later date, has been constructed between the towpath and the canal, presumably to support the bridge by reducing the effective span.
Originally, the main road from Welshpool to Newtown passed over both bridges. Abermule has now been bypassed by the A483. The bridges still carry the B4386 minor road to Abermule village and Glanmule, though subject to a 3 tonne vehicle weight restriction.
In 1997, both bridges were Grade II* listed.
Ironwork: John Henry Darby of Brymbo Ironworks
Masonry: David Wylie of Shrewsbury
Roadway: David Davies
Research: ECPK
"The Severn Way" by Terry Marsh, Cicerone Press Limited, February 2014
"Powys" by Richard Haslam, Pevsner Architectural Guides, Yale University Press, January 1979
reference sources   CEH WalesBDCE1

Abermule Bridge, Brynderwen