Britannia Bridge

Britannia Bridge

1850 - Britannia Bridge

The bridge's tubular design allowed the trains to run through the middle of eight wrought iron tubes, rather than on top as would have been expected.

The four largest tubes were floated out on pontoons on a high tide, positioned between the new towers on temporary supports at the foot of the towers as the tide fell. They were then raised carefully on hydraulic jacks, with masonry being laid beneath them as they were raised.

The bridge was an engineering triumph for 120 years until an accidental fire shattered the structural integrity and a new deck had to be built.

Robert Stephenson

Robert Stephenson
Robert Stephenson

Stephenson developed the steam locomotive rocket that won the Rainhill Trials in 1829. By 1850, he had been involved in one third of the country's railway system and designed the Royal Border Bridge and the High level Bridge linking Newcastle-Upon-Tyne with Gateshead. Along with Eaton Hodgkinson and William Fairbairn he developed wrought-iron tubular bridges, such as the Britannia Bridge.

The bridge was built for the Chester & Holyhead railway to cross the Menai Strait from Wales to Anglesey.

Robert was the only son of George Stephenson, the 'father of railways'. He built on the achievements of his father.

Facts

Britannia Railway Bridge Engineer: Robert Stephenson
Tubular railway bridge

Effect

Bold engineering choices led to this extension of the train line to Anglesey, for the benefit of locals and visitors alike

Challenge

461m wide straits

Solution

Trains ran through the middle of wrought-iron tubes

Legacy

An engineering triumph