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Union: The Welsh Link

Event organised by ICE

09 December 2020

This event has now ended

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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.


For more information please contact:

Felicity White