Waterloo Bridge, Betws-y-coed
Afon Conwy, Betws-y-coed, Conwy, Wales, UK
LG Mouchel & Partners
1815 - 1816, 1923
ICE reference number
The outer ribs of Waterloo Bridge over the Afon Conwy in Betws-y-Coed explain its name: "This arch was constructed in the same year the battle of Waterloo was fought". The spandrels above are decorated with the national emblems of rose, thistle, shamrock and leek, representing the Acts of Union. A significant example of early iron technology, it carried Thomas Telford's London to Holyhead road, now the A5, and it remains in use.
Betws-y-Coed is Snowdonia National Park’s principal village, where the Conwy meets its three tributaries — Llugwy, Lledr and Machno. Waterloo Bridge, constructed 1815-16, bridges the main river and was designed by Thomas Telford (1757-1834). Known originally as Llynnon Bridge, it is thought to be the seventh major iron bridge in the world.
The bridge is one of the major engineering works on the London to Holyhead road, the Shrewsbury to Bangor section of which was open to traffic by 1819. The route of Telford’s road is largely followed by the modern A5.
The 32m single span of the bridge consists of five cast iron arched girders at 1.5m centres supporting cast iron deck plates. The intricate spandrels of the outer arch ribs are formed in lettering and floral motifs, described above. They were modelled in relief by William Hazeldine (1763-1840), whom Telford called "the arch-conjurer", at the Plas Kynaston Ironworks near Pontcysyllte.
In 1923, the bridge’s masonry abutments were refurbished. Its superstructure was strengthened by encasing the inner three ribs in concrete, two of them heavily reinforced. A 178mm reinforced cantilevered concrete deck was added, providing extra space for new 1.5m wide footways and a 6.1m wide roadway. The cast iron parapet railings were re-erected on the outside of the new footways. The modifications were designed by L.G. Mouchel & Partners.
In 1978, a new 254mm reinforced concrete deck was added. The original cast iron parapet fence, visible from outside, was protected by an additional fence inside. The masonry abutments were also strengthened.
In May 1996, the bridge was Grade I listed.
Resident engineer: John Sinclair
Ironwork: William Hazeldine
Contractor: William Suttle: Contractor (1923): The Yorkshire Hennebique Contracting Company Ltd
Research: RJ / ECPK
"Thomas Telford" by Anthony Burton
Aurum Press Ltd, London, 1999