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Event Organiser: ICE

Union: The Welsh Link, webinar

  • Webinar
  • Online
  • 09 December 2020
  • 13:00 - 14:00
Union: The Welsh Link, webinar

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In 1818, the Newbridge chainworks of Captain (later Captain Sir) Samuel Brown (1774–1852) opened, at what is now Pontypridd, in South Wales. 

Brown pioneered, and would be the most successful exponent of, iron chains for ships anchor and mooring cables. His company becoming famous as ‘Brown, Lenox & Co.’ Newbridge, his second purpose-built chainworks, followed Millwall on the Thames, and was probably chosen by Philip Thomas (1771-1840), Brown’s smith foreman and first manager at Newbridge. It opened to capitalise on the supply monopoly Brown enjoyed with the Royal Navy, but chain cable would not be its only product as Brown was now developing iron chain suspension bridges for vehicular traffic, his innovation being chains of flat eyebar links and pins, patented in 1817.

The Union Chain Bridge was his first, uniting England and Scotland with Welsh chain made at Newbridge. Shortly after opening, it was noted that ‘the appearance of the bridge is very light and neat, and the general opinion is that it is likely to last and is as durable as any other’. Newbridge and Millwall are no more but the Union Chain Bridge, the oldest vehicular suspension bridge in the world, celebrated its bicentenary on 26 July 2020.



Stephen K. Jones

Wales Member ICE Panel for Historical Engineering Works
Chief Executive of the South Wales Institute of Engineers Educational Trust (SWIEET)
Trustee Friends of Union Chain Bridge

Stephen K. Jones

Born in Cardiff Stephen’s professional experience was in industrial development and economic regeneration, latterly at the Welsh Development Agency (WDA).  Seconded to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE Wales Cymru), he is a Companion member and works for SWIEET and as an independent researcher. He is the editor of Welsh Achievements in Science, Technology and Engineering, a Visiting Research Fellow at Bath University and Newcomen Society member.

Engineering history, particularly the work of Brunel, has long been an interest and saw his final volume of the Brunel in South Wales trilogy published in 2009. Exhibitions include Web of Iron and recent publications include chapters in Samuel Brown and Union Chain Bridge (2017), The Engineering Revolution: How the modern world has been transformed by technology (2019) and Spanning the Centuries (2020).

Event venue

United Kingdom

For more information please contact:

Felicity White

e: [email protected]