|Location Map ( geo)|
|Crossings related to the A547|
Today there are three bridges across the River Conwy in the shadow of the castle to the east of the historic walled town. From the south, there is first the tubular railway tunnel, then Thomas Telford's Suspension bridge and finally the modern road bridge carrying the A547.
Built in 1826, this Suspension Bridge is one of the oldest in the world, and replaced a ferry which had doubtless operated for centuries. The bridge is obviously an early design, where chains are used in place of the cables in modern suspension bridges. The Suspension towers were built in a gothic castle style to mimic the neighbouring castle walls and turrets, indeed the bridge is so close to the castle that part of the castle had to be dismantled in order to securely anchor the chains in bedrock. This damage appears to have been subsequently repaired.
The close proximity to the castle meant that when trafficked, vehicles had to make a sharp right turn after passing through the western suspension tower, and go under the chains in order to avoid crashing into the castle walls! The bridge remains in use, albeit solely as a pedestrian route.
All three bridges make use of a causeway across the eastern, tidal, half of the river channel, although as the Suspension Bridge was the first crossing built here it is reasonable to assume that the causeway was constructed by Telford (and widened later). Indeed, there is a precedence for such a construction by Telford at The Mound across Loch Fleet in Northern Scotland.
The Modern Bridge
Whilst the sharp right turn under the castle cannot have helped traffic across the bridge, it is more likely to be the narrow width of the roadway that made the bridge a major bottleneck as car use expanded. So, in 1958, a new bridge was built across the river immediately downstream. The new structure is a single span concrete arch, carrying a wide S2 roadway. It is also built on a slight skew to avoid the castle!
However, it did not last long as the main North Wales coast road, with the construction of the Conwy Tunnel providing a modern Dual Carriageway bypass to both the bridge and town.