special feature
What difference?
Wales played a unique role in the development
of the chain suspension bridge in Britain, supplying the iron that made new kinds of structures possible. Explore the story though the pioneering work of retired Naval captain, Sir Samuel Brown.
This essay was funded by
the ICE R&D Panel
Institution of Civil Engineers
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Chain Bridges and Welsh Iron
introduction |  first modern suspension bridges |  Captain Sir Samuel Brown + Thomas Telford |  gazeteer of Brown's works |  sources + reading list
Gazeteer of Samuel Brown's works
The following list of Captian Sir Samuel Brown's chain bridges and piers is a work in progress, and it may include non-suspension bridges owing to the sketchness of the information currently available. Only three of his chain bridges remain to us today. They are highlighted below.
The reference codes relate to the source material. See the key at the foot of the page.
1808 Brown's first experiments
1812 Establishes chain works with his cousin Samuel Lenox, at Millwall, Isle of Dogs, London
1813 Experimental span, Millwall chainworks, London, UK
BUILT : fate unknown ... 32m span, seen by Joseph-Michel Dutens in 1818
1816 Moves chainworks to Pontypridd in South Wales, and establishes Newbridge Chain & Anchor Works beside the Glamorganishire Canal, providing access to coal and iron
1817 Runcorn Bridge proposal, River Mersey, Runcorn, UK
NOT BUILT : joint project with Thomas Telford
1820 Union Bridge, River Tweed, north of Horncliffe, Northumberland, UK
EXTANT : 110m clear span, steel cable added 1903, deck replaced 1974
NAS : GD416/23/1-5, GD416/28/9 (repair by Redpath)
1821 Trinity Chain Pier, Newhaven/Granton harbours, Edinburgh, UK
BUILT : landing pier, collapsed in a storm 1898
NAS : GD416/30/1
1823 Brighton Chain Pier, Brighton, Sussex, UK
BUILT : landing and pleasure pier, destroyed in a storm 1896
NAS : GD416/17
1823 Saltash Bridge proposal, River Tamar, Cornwall, UK
1824 St Katherine's Bridge proposal, River Thames, London, UK
NOT BUILT : to improve access between St Katherine's Dock and the proposed South London Docks, design by Brown, draughting by Charles Blacker Vignoles, put forward by James Walker
1824 Deal Pier proposal, Deal, Kent, UK
NOT BUILT : chain pier? ... ICE : BD
1824-5 Shields Bridge proposal, River Tyne, North and South Shields, UK
NOT BUILT : chain bridge, estimate £93,000
NAS : GD416/31/10-12
1824-5 Ruswarp Ford, River Esk, Ruswarp Mill, North Riding, Yorkshire, UK
BUILT : destroyed by flood 1828, re-built, destroyed by flood 1880
1825 Netherbyres Bridge, River Eye, Eyemouth, Berwickshire, UK
BUILT : tension bridge on Brown's Scottish estate, cut down 1951
NAS : GD416/3/1-40, GD416/23/1 (copy letters mainly Netherbyres)
1825 Lockerbie Bridge proposal, River Annan, Lockerbie/Lochinabar, Scotland, UK
1825 Beachley Bridge proposal, River Wye, Monmouthshire, Wales UK
NOT BUILT : site engineer Henry Habberley Price
NAS : GD416/31/21
1825 Annan & Dryfe Bridge proposal, Dryfe Water, Dumfries & Galloway, UK
NOT BUILT ... NAS : GD416/31/17, 18 ... ICE : BD
1825 Dumfries Bridge proposal, River Nith, Dumfries, Scotland, UK
NOT BUILT : quotation "in general terms" for suspension bridge
NAS : GD416/31/14 ... ICE : BD
1825 Aberdeen Bridge proposal, River Dee, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
NOT BUILT ... NAS : GD416/31/13, 15
1825 East Lothian Bridge proposal, Esk and Lyne rivers, Scotland, UK
NOT BUILT : suspension bridge for railway engineered by Robert Stevenson
NAS : GD416/31/4, 5, 6
1825 Wisbech Bridge proposal, River Nene, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, UK
NOT BUILT ... NAS : GD416/20/4, GD416/31/24-26
1826 Warden Chain Bridge, River Tyne, Hexham, Northumberland, UK
BUILT : collapsed under weight of threshing machine 1877, rebuilt, replaced 1903
1826 Welney Bridge, Hundred Feet River, Welney, Norfolk, UK
BUILT : opened 16th August, 58.5m long, carriageway 2.3m wide with 1m wide footpath each side, estimate £ 2,710, replaced 1926
NAS : GD416/20/1, 3 and GD416/22/4, GD416/31/1, 2, 23 ... ICE : BD
1827 Hammersmith Suspension Bridge ironwork, London, UK
BUILT : designed by William Tierney Clark, advice and ironwork by Brown Lenox & Co, bridge replaced 1887
NAS : GD416/28/17
1829 South Esk Bridge, South Esk River, Montrose, Aberdeenshire, UK
BUILT : Thomas Telford approved drawings and specifications, ironwork supplied by Walker & Yates of, Gospel Oak, collapsed 1830, rebuilt, destroyed in a storm 1838
NAS : GD416/18/1-44 except 37, GD416/19/36, GD416/28
1829 Kemeys Bridge, River Esk near Kemeys, Gommander, Gwent, UK
BUILT : supervised by Philip Thomas of Brown Lenox & Co, 45.7m span, opened 1830, replaced 1906
1829-30 Stockton Railway Bridge, River Tees, Stockton, UK
BUILT : part of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, replaced 1842
NAS : GD416/25/1-25
1829-30 Clifton Gorge competition entry, River Avon, Bristol, UK
NOT BUILT ... GD416/25/16, GD416/32/1-6
1829-31 Wellington Suspension Bridge, River Dee, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
EXTANT : also known as Craiglug Bridge, masonry by John Smith, contractor James Abernethy, cost £10,000, 67m long, 6.7m wide, north arch added 1886, re-built using steel suspenders and bearers 1930
NAS : GD416/21/1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14 and GD416/22
1830 Bath Chain Bridge proposal, Bath, UK
1830 Dalkeith Bridge proposal, Dalkeith, Scotland, UK
NOT BUILT ... NAS : GD416/20/4 ... ICE : BD
1830 Dollar Bridge proposal, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, UK
1830 Whorlton Bridge proposal, River Tyne, Whorlton, County Durham, UK
NOT BUILT : suspension bridge at this location was built 1831 by John Green and son Benjamin using chains similar to Brown's patented ones
NAS : GD416/16/1-4
1831-2 Boharm Bridge, River Spey, Boat O'Brig, Moray, Scotland, UK
BUILT : also known as Boat O'Brig or New Bridge, replaced 1956
NAS : GD416/20/4, GD416/22/1, 3, 4, 5 and GD416/25/23
1832 Findhorn Bridge, River Findhorn, Forres, Moray, Scotland, UK
BUILT : replaced 1958
NAS : GD416/18/39, GD416/19/1, 3, 16 and GD416/30/19
1832 Llandovery Bridge, River Towey, Llandovery, Wales, UK
BUILT : supervised by Philip Thomas of Brown Lenox & Co, opened 1830, replaced 1882
1832 Gainslaw Bridge proposal, UK
NOT BUILT ... NAS : GD416/19/17, 25 ... ICE : BD
1832 Sluie Bridge proposal, Scotland, UK
1835 Greenwich Pier proposal, Greenwich, London, UK
NOT BUILT : chain pier? ... ICE : BD
1835 Bridge proposal, metropolitan London, UK
1835 Granton Pier proposal, Edinburgh, UK
NOT BUILT : chain pier? ... NAS : GD416/26
c.1835 Kalemouth Bridge, River Teviot, Kelso, Borders, Scotland, UK
EXTANT : largely unaltered, 56.7m long, 2.6m between suspension points, reconditioned 1987, new cable anchorages 1990
1836 Kings Ferry Bridge proposal, River Swale, Kent, UK
NOT BUILT : attributed to Mr March
1837-8 Norham Bridge proposal, Northumberland, UK
1843-4 Kenmare Bridge, Kenmare Sound, County Kerry, Ireland
BUILT : replaced 1932 ... GD41/24/1, 3, 14, 35, 44-45, 47
1843-4 Earith Bridge proposal, Cambridgeshire, UK
1844 Lambeth Bridge proposal, Millbank, London, UK
NOT BUILT ... ref : vestry minute books, St. Mary, Lambeth
Durham Bridge proposal, River Wear, County Durham, UK
NOT BUILT ... NAS : GD416/20/5
NAS = National Archives of Scotland
GD416 = NAS deposit Papers of Sir Samuel Brown (Strathern & Blair MSS)
/22/5 = bundle 22, item 5 in NAS papers
ICE = Institution of Civil Engineers
BD = Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers (vol 1), published for ICE
See sources >
introduction |  first modern suspension bridges |  Captain Sir Samuel Brown + Thomas Telford |  gazeteer of Brown's works |  sources + reading list

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Kalemouth Bridge
Samuel Brown's Kalemouth Suspension Bridge (c.1835) over the River Teviot near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. It is one of only three of Brown's chain bridges that have survived. Many were destroyed by flood or storm, and many were replaced in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Photo: © Alan Reid and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Wellington Bridge, Aberdeen
Another survivor is the Wellington Bridge (1831) over the River Dee in Aberdeen, Scotland. It was rebuilt in 1930 using steel suspenders and bearers.
Photo: © Alan Reid and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence