The huge industrial complexes in the valleys of South Wales were producing iron in unprecedented quantities, and British engineers were exploring ways to use it to construct bridges of ever-greater span. Chains of iron were ideal for supporting 'modern' suspension bridges, which featured horizontal decks designed for road traffic. Captain Brown's Newbridge chainworks (Brown Lenox) at Pontypridd in South Wales was in the forefront of this development.
This adaptation of Stephen K. Jones' essay focuses on the work of the two engineers who dominated chain bridge constructed in Britain in this period. Captain Sir Samuel Brown
(1776-1852) was responsible for a large number of suspension bridges (built and proposed), of which three important examples survive. Thomas Telford
(1757-1834) knew Brown and shared his confidence in suspensions bridges.
Stephen K. Jones's research is focused on the Newbridge chainworks and on Brown's papers held in the National Archives of Scotland. His research for the touring exhibition sponsored by ICE Wales Cymru — Web of Iron — has resulted in two permanent exhibitions. One is at the Chain Bridge Honey Farm Visitor Centre, Horncliffe, near Berwick upon Tweed. The other is at the Thomas Telford Centre, Prince's Pier, Menai Bridge, Isle of Anglesey.