Britannia Bridge campaign to raise the "hidden" lions

media captionCampaigners are calling for the lions to be raised up

Campaigners are calling for 12 feet high lions "hidden" under the Britannia Bridge to be raised up to welcome visitors to Anglesey.

The four stone sculptures have been there since the bridge across the Menai Strait first opened in 1850, but the A55 crossing was built over them.

Almost 200 people have signed a petition to raise two of the limestone big cats onto the bridge.

Some are concerned the bridge would not cope with moving the 80 tonne lions.

Tim Snow, who started the "Raise the Lions" online petition, is calling on Network Rail to move the sculptures up, saying it would boost tourism.

"They are part of our local heritage," said Mr Snow.

"It would be great for visitors and locals alike to be greeted by these magnificent lions."

image captionCampaigners say the lions are hidden from view and should be raised up
image copyrightGeograph/Ian Capper

Bob Diamond, Gwynedd's former director of highways and now treasurer of the Menai Heritage centre, said the bridge would "probably not be strong enough" to hold cranes that would be needed to lift the big cats.

"They were actually finished in situ. If you try and take them apart to raise them you would in effect be destroying a work of art," he added.

Mr Diamond also worries the sculptures could distract motorists if they are placed by the A55.

The four lions - two on each side - are made from limestone from Penmon. They survived a fire which damaged the bridge in 1970.

As the Britannia Bridge is a grade II listed structure any proposed alterations would need planning permission from the local authority, Network Rail said.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "As a publicly funded organisation committed to delivering our railway upgrade plan to provide a bigger and better railway, we would be unable to provide financial assistance but would be happy to meet with campaign members to discuss the structure and to offer any guidance we can".

image captionThe lions weigh 80 tonnes each

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