The Public Right of Way and the Iron Tram Bridge in Trecynon closed for 4 years WHY?

The Public Right of Way in Trecynon known as footpath 35 was closed back in 2018 also was the Iron Tram Road Bridge the grade 2 listed structure because it was dangerous, a permanent fence was erected not a temporary fence to stop the public from using the bridge.


Storm Dennis February 2020, Monday, October 12 work starts repairing the M&S Bridge Pontypridd M&S Bridge reopens 16 Mar 2021 just over 12 months.


September 2021 Rhondda Cynon Taf Council placed this about the PROW and Trecynon Bridge on their website.


“The bridge was in a poor condition before Storm Dennis and received further damage during the unprecedented weather and subsequent storm events in February 2020. Security fencing has been placed around the structure and its surrounding area, while its Public Right of Way over the river remains closed.”


If you look at the public notice what the council is saying is incorrect the closure order originally was in August 2018 the bridge and subsequent Public Right of Way has been out of use for 4 years the council now say the installation of the bridge and the reopening of the Public Right of Way summer 2022, the question is why has it taken so long to repair and reinstate. 


Public Rights of Way Officer gave this reply to AberdareOnline 2019 “The Council is aware of the historical importance of this Grade-II listed structure. The bridge has been identified as having scour damage and significant structural steelwork defects. A full closure of the Public Right of Way remains in place with security fencing erected in the interests of public safety. The Council recently met with consulting engineers and specialist contractors to agree the scope of the necessary repair works. As the bridge is grade listed the remedial works will require the consent of CADW. The Council hope to meet with CADW in the near future to discuss these proposed remedial works.”


A response from CADW on February 2020 “I am writing to confirm that the tramroad bridge in Robertstown is both listed and scheduled.  As scheduling takes precedence, I am pleased to confirm that I am the Inspector of Ancient Monuments dealing with this case.”


In February 2022 AberdareOnline asked CADW and the Council “Please can I have an update on when the above stone abutments will be repaired and the bridge will be reinstated and opening up the public right of way?” no response from CADW below a response from a Senior Engineer from Highways Infrastructure RCTC


“I am writing in response to your query regarding Iron Tram Bridge, Robertstown.

As you will have seen the bridge was dismantled and is currently being stored off site with the view to repair and re-instate.

Unfortunately the condition of the bridge was far worse than anticipated.

We are currently in the process of considering the options for permanent repair, as a result of the worsened condition, an exact timeline for re-instatement is not known.

Sorry I could not give a more specific dates. Once we confirm the timescales involved we will let the residents know across the council’s various media platforms.”


From this response from Senior Engineer from Highways AberdareOnline replied to the Engineer but to date has not received a reply from the council.


Thank you for your response to the 23 February 2022 in your reply you write,

“We are currently in the process of considering the options for permanent repair, as a result of the worsened condition, an exact timeline for reinstatement is not known.”


You should be aware of the problems that were raised in May 2019 with a meeting with RCTC and CADW.


CADW officers also visited the Iron Trambridge on 5th June 2018 with representatives of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council to inspect the structure and consider conservation works.  The bridge was in a seriously poor condition then and actively deteriorating.  Issues discussed during the site visit included lost and displaced masonry from the abutments, cracked ironwork, vegetation growing on the structure, undermining of the structure caused by erosion (associated with river bed erosion at this location) and potential impacts of the storm drain.


Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC undertook emergency stabilisation works over three days between 25th July and 31st August 2018.  This work was carried out with Class 5 Consent, which allows for works urgently necessary in the interests of safety or health, if:


a)    The works are limited to the minimum measures immediately necessary; and


b)    Notice in writing justifying in detail the need for the works is given to Cadw as soon as reasonably practicable.


As you can see from the timeline the bridge and the public right of way has been out of use to the public for almost 4 years, back in 2018 the extent of the work required to repair the bridge and stonework abutments was established.

Additional storms since 2018 one would assume because of the delays by RCTC doing the preliminary repairs at the time 2018, conditions of the bridge and stone abutments have further deteriorated even more.


But you would have know all of this before a specification of works required was drawn up by your engineers and cost by council quantity surveyors the contract to repair the bridge by nominated contractor was not an open check book, I assume there was a specification drawn up for the work, otherwise your contractor could not price the job and program the work.


As there is no work being done at this time to the reported undermining of the structure caused by erosion and that was back in 2018 therefore as you expressed in your response, “the condition of the bridge was far worse than anticipated.” Therefor one can assume the erosion has worsened the structure of the stone abutments and the bridge itself.


Unlike the M&S bridge in Pontypridd a bridge that was restored immediately after the storm of 2020, comparing the cast-iron bridge across the River Cynon between Trecynon and Robertstown that is one of the oldest surviving ‘railway’ bridges in the world, in 1991 it became Grade II listed, was made a scheduled ancient monument number GM347 in 2008.


Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has given out a contract for bridge repairs and stone abutments, as you cannot do one without the other, at this time there is no contractor working on the stone abutments in preparation for reinstating the bridge when repairs are completed. The council must have the necessary funding in place before placing the contract for the work, but you say you could not give a more specific date for restating the work or completion on the work, that’s sounds like an open checkbook for the contractor with onsite instructions.


As well as getting the M&S footbridge bridge in Pontypridd restored almost immediately, Pontypridd also get another £2 million footbridge to sit almost next to the M&S bridge, I am aware that was a political decision, as is the delays to one of the oldest surviving ‘railway’ bridges.


Can you clarify what you mean by “considering the options for permanent repair’?


I await your response about the bridge and stone abutments.


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Team @ AberdareOnline

Team @ AberdareOnline

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