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Pont Spwdwr (Spudder's Bridge)
Gwendraeth Fawr River, between Kidwelly and Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK
Pont Spwdwr (Spudder's Bridge)
associated engineer
Not known
date  c.1500
UK era  Tudor  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SN433059
ICE reference number  HEW 1218
photo  © Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales | © Hawlfraint y Goron: Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru
Pont Spwdwr, or Spudder's Bridge, over the Gwendraeth Fawr River might be the oldest extant bridge in South Wales. Medieval in origin, it later carried the turnpike (toll) road between Kidwelly and Llanelli. A Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade II* listed, the bridge is now used for foot traffic only.
This type of bridge is rare in the area. It is built of sandstone masonry and has six pointed arches between piers with straight pointed cutwaters, which provide refuges at roadway level. The two southernmost arches span the river, and the other four are built over the floodplain.
From south to north, successive spans measure 6.1m, 8.5, 9.1m, 5.5m, 6.1m and 2.7m, and the maximum arch rise is 3.65m. The single lane roadway is 2.4m wide between solid parapet walls and ramps upwards towards the centre of the bridge. The north side parapet continues past the bridge, forming a field boundary.
The date of Pont Spwdwr’s construction is not known but it is likely to have been in the late 15th century. In 1499, a bridge named "Ponte Rees Powdwr" is mentioned in the Mansel family deeds of the Muddlescombe (Muddlescwm) Estate, Kidwelly (Cydweli).
The bridge was repaired at least twice in the 16th century. In 1571 or 1572, 40 shillings (£2) for bridge repairs were received from local man David Vaughan’s will, followed in 1587, by a bequest of 20 shillings (£1) from his nephew Griffith Vaughan’s will.
In 1770, wing walls were added to the bridge, paid for by Thomas Kymer (1722-84), Burgess of Kidwelly and builder of a private canal from his coal pits at Pwll y Llygod to Ythyn Frenig in 1766-68.
In 1795, county bridge master John Thomas estimated that repairing "Spydders Bridge" and "the long walls from the bridge to the Ladies Arch" would cost £9 15s 6d. Justice of the Peace John Rees of Cilymaenllwyd was supposed to employ builders for the work but apparently did nothing.
According to Edwyn Jervoise, writing in 1936, it is "by far the most ancient bridge remaining in South Wales".
Pont Spwdwr is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (Cm006) and, from March 1966, a Grade II* listed structure. On its east side, a modern bridge has been built for vehicles using the B4308 between Kidwelly and Trimsaran.
The bridge's unusual name has had several different spellings and translations. Two of these are Pont Rees Bwdwr, or 'bridge of the idle Rees', a sly reference to John Rees, and Pont Sbwdwr, derived from Pont yr Ysbydwr, or 'hospitaller’s bridge’, in connection with the 12th century Benedictine priory at Kidwelly.
Research: ECPK
"The Ancient Bridges of Wales and Western England" by E. Jervoise, The Architectural Press, Westminster, London 1926

Pont Spwdwr (Spudder's Bridge)