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110-year-old Swansea bridge set for restoration

Swansea bridge

Hopes have been raised for the restoration of a historic bridge over the River Tawe in Swansea on the site of the old copperworks, after Swansea Council secured £750,000 to inspect damage to the structure.

The grade-II listed former rail bridge used to connect the two sides of the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks. The deck will be raised by crane next month so engineers can see if it can be restored.  

The bridge lift is being undertaken by Swansea Highways Partnership, a partnership between Swansea Council and Griffiths.

Swansea Council has secured £750,000 to restore the structure, which will be connect to local cycling and footpaths.  

The timber and steel bascule bridge was built 1909, and using a large water tank on its western side as a counterweight to enable deck raising and lowering so that ships could pass along the river. The bridge, now a fixed structure, fell into disuse in the 1980s, when the copperworks were abandoned.  

The bridge was last inspected by Ibex in October 2013 with a dimensional survey including ultrasonic plate thickness measurement and investigations to determine the contents of the counterweight tank.  

The restoration is part of a wider scheme to redevelop the site, funded by a £3.5M grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Bascule bridge old picture

Bridge in operation

 

Swansea Council cabinet member for regeneration Nick Bradley said: “This is a site that’s of significant international historic importance because it once played a pivotal role in the world’s copper trade when Swansea was at the beating heart of the industrial revolution. It’s a site that’s lain derelict for too long but working in close partnership with Swansea University and the Welsh Government means we’ve started to breathe new life into it.” 

GWP Architecture has worked with Swansea Council to design the overall restoration of the site, which will feature a visitor’s centre, a whisky distillery, and retail space.  

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