Photos | Lift of 110-year-old bascule bridge for restoration

16 July 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Swansea Highways Partnership (SHP), a consortium made up of the City & County of Swansea Council, Alun Griffiths (Contractors) and Hanson Quarry Products Europe, has brought in a 53m-tall crane to lift a 110-year-old bascule bridge ahead of its restoration.

The lift took place on Sunday 14 July and involved more than 20 construction professionals. The bridge – which spans the River Tawe near the Liberty Stadium and weighs around 70 tonnes – is considered a key heritage feature of the area.

The lift operation was weeks in the planning and the aim is to re-install the restored structure next year following assessment and restoration work at Afon Engineering, Swansea Vale.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “Work is essential at this time to prevent further decay and risk of loss of this Grade-Two-listed bridge which is also an officially scheduled historic monument. Any further delay would result in the loss of this valuable heritage that forms a critical part of Swansea’s story.”

The bascule bridge was pivotal to the area’s time as the world copper capital. Its hinged steel structure would lift to allow the passage of river traffic.

The steel and timber structure, also known as the Morfa Bridge, was built in 1909 to strengthen Swansea’s world-famous copper industry. It provided a rail link between the Morfa and Upper Bank copper works.

The span between two riverbank stone abutments is around 50m in length and around 3m wide. A large part of the deck could originally be lifted using a hand-cranked mechanism to allow boats up and down the river. Due to safety concerns the bridge has been fenced off to the public since 1999, hindering river craft travelling upstream.

The restoration work will be carried out in stages including the assessment, repair and reinstatement of the main steel structure then the assessment and repair of the timber elements.

The initial main work on the steel elements is being part funded by Welsh Government Targeted Regeneration and Investment funding support together with a funding contribution form the council.

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