Lattice-girder Bridge over the Wye. Source: the 1865 Illustrated London News. [Click on image to enlarge it]

Article accompanying illustration

Two new bridges over the Wye have been erected by the Hereford, Hay, and Brecon Railway Company. The one shown in our Illustration is not a railway bridge, but has been provided to replace the old bridge connected with the high road, near the Welsh border town of Hay, where the River Wye forms the boundary between Brecknockshire aud Radnorshire. Here for the last hundred years existed a wooden bridge, whose somewhat crazy structure was patched and renewed more than once when torn away by the heavy floods to which the river is periodically subject. The control and management of the bridge was vested in commissioners, who have the right to levy toll on the public. As some arrangement was necessary to enable tbc railway to cross the approaches to the old road bridge, which was now becoming radically unsafe, Mr. Savin, who is so well known in connection with the Welsh system of railways, of which he has been a principal promoter, agreed to build a new iron bridge on a lease of the tolls for 100 years being granted to him. The erection was intrusted to Messrs, Handyside and Co. engineers, of Derby and London, while Mr. W. C. Hughes, C.E., supplied the design. This bridge has an imposing and lofty elevation. It is 388 ft. long, and the rail-level is 50 ft. above the surface of the water. There are four river-spans of 72 ft. and two shore-spans of 20 ft., and the breadth of roadway is 22 ft. The wrought-iron columns are attached to a heavy iron caisson, resting on the river bed, which is here so hard and rocky as to obviate the necessity of screw-piles, if it were possible to use them. On the columns are placed the main lattice girders, on the bottom of which is the roadway, constructed of iron, corrugated in a peculiar manner patented by Mr. Hughes, and trussed with strong iron rods. The rocks seen in the Engraving are the ruins of the foundations of the old structure.

The other bridge we have mentioned is at Whitney, in Herefordshire, four miles lower down the river. The railway here crosses the river, the banks of which have not here the steepness and height which are characteristic of its course further on; but the woods and meadow-land have a picturesque beauty of their own, and the tourist who only knows the river at Chepstow and Ross will be delighted if, coming up beyond Hereford, he sees the same stream aa it flows out of Wales into England; and if his taste is for salmon-fishing, it can here be amply gratified. From Hereford the new railway runs some seventeen miles to the place where, at the little village of Whitney, it crosses the river, here of considerable width. This bridge, by the same engineers, is formed of lattice-girders, which are every day being more used for such purposes, and which in this case are 8 ft. deep. These are supported by wrought-iron columns, the lower ends of which form piles screwed into the bed of the river to a depth of from 12 ft. to 20 ft., and strongly framed together to ensure perfect rigidity and firmness. There are three main spans of 80 ft. and two shore spans of 44 ft. each, these latter resting on stone piers. The flooring of the bridge is formed of timber, on which the permanent way is laid with considerable depth of ballast. As a test, a train of locomotives was placed upon the bridge for some time; and this, as well as a heavy running load, was safely borne without any permanent deflection. The bridges were erected under the immediate superintendence of Mr. J. Smith, resident engineer for Messrs. Handyside and Co.

You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and The University of Michigan Library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


“New Bridges over the Wye.” Illustrated London News (29 October 1865): 400. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 22 January 2016.

Last modified 22 January 2016