Celebrating the restoration of the historic Iron Tram Bridge

Celebrating the restoration of the historic Iron Tram Bridge

Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism has visited the Iron Tram Bridge in Trecynon – celebrating the restoration and reopening of the Scheduled Monument and Grade II Listed Building that was constructed in the early 1800s.

Scheme to repair Penydarren Tramroad Bridge Trecynon submitted to Cadw

The bridge was in a poor condition before receiving further damage in Storm Dennis, and the Council has worked closely with Cadw to design a complex restoration scheme. The original bridge was manufactured more than 200 years ago by the Abernant Foundry to carry the tramroad to Trecynon. A key aim has been to sympathetically restore the historic structure using many original elements, in order to preserve its cultural significance and historic appearance.

A hybrid structure was considered the most appropriate long-term solution, by reinstating virtually all of the bridge’s original structural elements – allowing them to be displayed as first intended. Modern components have been used to guarantee the structure’s longevity and preservation. Further detail about the elements of the restored structure is included at the bottom of this update.

the landmark Iron Bridge in Robertstown had been unused since August 2018  untill scheduled monument consent was granted by Cadw in June 2023, allowing work to progress over the summer months. The final works were completed in early October, including rebuilding the stone walls on the bridge’s approach. The structure has since reopened, maintaining the public right of way over the River Cynon.

Dawn Bowden MS celebrated the bridge’s restoration by visiting the site in Trecynon on Monday, October 30. She was accompanied by the Council’s Leader, Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE; Dr Jonathan Berry, Cadw’s Senior Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Archaeology; Vikki Howells, the Member of the Senedd for the Cynon Valley constituency; and local ward councillors.

While the project is now substantially complete, some very minor work is outstanding – including the installation of two bollards and an additional section of handrail. The contractor will install these elements in due course.

Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Investment, said: “I was very pleased to visit the Iron Tram Bridge in Trecynon, and to welcome the Deputy Minister to see our completed restoration project which has preserved an important piece of history in the Cynon Valley. Built in the early 1800s to carry the former tramroad, the bridge is a Scheduled Monument that provides evidence of the construction methods used more than 200 years ago.

“The Council has welcomed vital support from Welsh Government to deliver the scheme, as part of a wider programme dedicated for Storm Dennis repairs being carried out in 2023/24. Representing around a £20m investment for Rhondda Cynon Taf in total, the programme is also funding major repair schemes such as the Castle Inn Bridge in Treforest, White Bridge in Pontypridd, and Tynybryn Footbridge in Tonyrefail. All out of taxpayers money.

“We have also welcomed important guidance from Cadw to deliver the Iron Tram Bridge scheme – and I was pleased to welcome Doctor Jonathan Berry on Monday. The overall restoration process did take a long time, but it was important we got every detail right – working with specialist contractors to inspect the damage, and then design the best solution. The final project is a hybrid scheme using many original bridge elements while also future-proofing the structure – and Cadw’s input throughout the process has been invaluable.

“While there is still minor outstanding work to be finished, the scheme is now substantially complete. We have reinstated this historic landmark, and the public right of way it carries, for the benefit of the community. I’d like to thank residents for their patience while this project was developed and delivered.”

Dawn Bowden MS, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, said: “I was delighted to be invited to the re-opening of this historic bridge which is of national significance, and it is important that this investment has been made to secure it for the benefit and enjoyment of this and future generations.

“I am aware of the extensive damage to the structure and the expert advice and skilful conservation repairs required to repair and reinstate it. This project is a particularly good example of following Cadw’s Conservation Principles to ensure that decision-making was heritage-led, and that the bridge’s heritage values and authenticity were sustained.

“Our changing climate can and will damage designated heritage assets located in, over or adjacent to our rivers in Wales. One particularly commendable element of this project has been the adaptation measures deployed to stop the bridge being struck and damaged by waterborne objects in the future. The removal of the bridge from Cadw’s Monuments at Risk register and its re-opening as a public right of way are both great achievements and I am very grateful to all of those involved.”

Further detail about the restored structure

The bridge’s original iron cast beams and deck plates have been reinstated. Three load-bearing structural frames were added to transfer the deck away from the historic beams – painted black to match the original elements. The beams were repaired, along with the handrail bearing the maker’s mark. Deck plate hooks were re-attached to the beams as an authentic and aesthetic feature. The masonry abutments are largely unaltered, with some stonework removed to accommodate the new structural elements. New parapets were included at the top of each abutment following evidence for earlier ones discovered during archaeological research.

The scheme also included installation of a free-standing collision protection beam upstream of the bridge, to prevent debris from striking the structure.

Image by https://twitter.com/SteveEditor

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