Llangollen chain bridge restoration gets £350,000 lottery grant

The chain bridge looking towards Berwyn Station The chain bridge closed over 30 years ago due to safety fears
The chain bridge and inn c1870 A view of the original chain bridge in 1870 before it was replaced in 1876
Chainbridge Hotel A path to Berwyn Station will be opened to give access to Llangollen railway line
Llangollen Canal Horse-drawn boats still carry passengers along the canal
Horseshoe Falls Horseshoe Falls, the source of Llangollen Canal, is a short walk from the bridge

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Work is expected to start this summer on the £465,000 restoration of Llangollen's historic chain bridge.

It could be reopened next year once the bridge has been dismantled and restored, re-establishing a link between Llangollen Canal and railway line which was closed 30 years ago.

The town and community council began raising funds for the work in 2007.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged £350,000 meaning work can start soon.

THREE BRIDGES SPAN 200 YEARS

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHM) says the bridge was built in 1817 but some records say it was 1814.

Exuperius Pickering, a local entrepreneur dealing in coal, limestone, slate and iron is reputed to have called on engineer Thomas Telford to help with the design and building, but there is some doubt.

According to RCAHM, the construction of the chain bridge allowed him to monopolise the local coal trade as the bridge gave him access to the adjacent London to Holyhead road - the A5.

It also meant he avoided tolls to cross the main bridge over the river in Llangollen.

Pickering's bridge was constructed with wooden decking, supported by wrought iron chains from below.

The bridge was supported from the river bed by six oak pillars.

By 1870 it was in a bad condition and was replaced in 1876 by Sir Henry Robertson, a part owner of Wrexham's former Brymbo Ironworks which became the now closed steel works site

In February 1928, flooding washed away most of the bridge and it was rebuilt in a style similar to Anglesey's Menai Suspension Bridge.

Seamus O'Keeffe, who runs the Chainbridge Hotel next to the landmark, said despite its current condition it still proved a draw for visitors.

"Having it restored is a wonderful thing for the hotel and the community," he said.

"It has been an important thing locally for a number of years."

Town council clerk Gareth Thomas said once reopened it would re-establish the link between the railway and canal for a whole "new generation to appreciate and use".

However, he pointed out funding from other sources still needed to be secured.

The current bridge was constructed in 1929, although the original was built in 1817.

It was devised by a local coal merchant looking to create a cheap transport route across the River Dee to enable coal from Llangollen Canal to cross the river to the A5 road, bypassing tolls.

The bridge spans the River Dee which itself runs parallel to the railway line on one side and Llangollen Canal on the other near its source, Horseshoe Falls.

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