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Abercamlais Suspension Bridge
River Usk, near Trallong, Powys, Wales, UK
associated engineer
Crawshay Bailey
date  circa 1830
era  Georgian  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SN965290
ICE reference number  HEW 1265
In the grounds of the Abercamlais estate, adjoining the A40 about 10km west of Brecon, is a slender iron suspension footbridge across the River Usk. It is attributed to Crawshay Bailey, the famous ironmaster of Nantyglo in the eastern Ebbw Vale. It is well maintained. Access is only possible with the prior permission of the estate owner.
The bridge spans 25.9m. Both the walkway and the structure that supports it are made entirely of iron. The bridge's suspension cables consist of two 28mm diameter wrought iron rods set 810mm vertically apart, one pair on each side. The threaded ends of the rods pass through upright cast iron end posts and are tensioned against the posts by nuts. The posts are 1.8m high and lean outwards, spaced 660mm apart at the foot and 1m at the top. A half hoop of wrought iron connects the tops.
Each end post is braced against the pull of the suspension cables by two raking rods set at approximately 45 degrees angles, which are anchored below ground. Every 3m along the bridge, iron rods — hooked over the top cables and looped around the lower ones — carry 100mm x 9mm flat iron deck-bearers that run full bridge width. In between the rods, short hangers attached to the lower cables support smaller section (38mm x 13mm) intermediate bearers.
The walkway consists of four flat iron planks, 100mm x 9mm in section, running the length of the bridge. These are spaced apart and provide a walkway almost half a metre wide. The planks are riveted to the wider deck-bearers but sit freely on the others.
The bridge’s design, with its remarkably minimal use of iron, has been attributed to ironmaster Crawshay Bailey (1789-1872), who ran Nantyglo Ironworks from 1820 with his elder brother Joseph Bailey (1783-1858). They were nephews of Richard Crawshay (1739-1810), the owner of Cyfarthfa Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil.
At some point, Abercamlais Suspension Bridge’s end frames were strengthened with steel. It is now a Grade II listed structure.
RCAHMW_NPRN 43065, 43079
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Powys" by Richard Haslam, Pevsner Architectural Guides, Yale University Press, January 1979
http://cadw.wales.gov.uk
http://yba.llgc.org.uk
www.abercamlais.com
www.coflein.gov.uk
www.gracesguide.co.uk
www.ice.org.uk
reference sources   CEH W&W
Location

Abercamlais Suspension Bridge