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A Bridge to be Admired & Treasured

Traditionally, rivers divide communities. Witness the antipathy of north Londoners by those who live south of the Thames and I wonder how citizens of Conwy feel about residents of Deganwy, and vice versa. Bridges, on the other hand, are connecting links. In today’s predominately motorised world, bridges are frequently the daily causes of traffic hold-ups, and delays to our journeys, rather than being a means of crossing an important local landmark, a river. We need to get out of our cars and look and admire our bridges, and around Ruthin we have some very worthwhile specimens which warrant a second look. Living in Llanfair DC, I am prejudiced in favour of the delights of our bridge over the Clwyd down the hill towards the Corwen Road. It has been a favourite spot for me to visit for years with the grandchildren. We would clamber around and splash about under its magnificent vaulted arch that spans the river. At most times, it is a pleasant enough pretty river running through a wooded landscape. But It was only in November 2000 that the River Clwyd flooded. On that occasion, torrential dark brown flood waters rose to envelop even the bridge’s superstructure, so it should be treated with respect. l was surprised when I stopped there the other day, to ask the construction workers on site, exactly what they were doing, to be subjected to a lecture on the qualities of the construction and the workmanship of the original stonemasons who constructed the bridge. They also admired the stonework of the nearby old railway viaduct, that is now just a romantic ruin beside the river. And we reminisced on the days when you could travel almost anywhere by rail, even from Eyarth Station to Ruthin to do a morning’s shopping or for children to go to school. These men had obviously learned to respect the products of the local construction workers who had preceded them! To give this bridge its proper name, it is Pont
Newydd, the new bridge. Documents in the Ruthin Record Office record there being a need to replace the former footbridge, Pont Eyarth, as early at 1702. After inspecting a series of barely decipherable handwritten proposals, I finally came across one which detailed specifications as to the materials and design to be used for the new construction. It was dated 1785. These included the sum of seventy eight pounds to be dispensed on the construction of a road that should be “'passable by carts and carriages”. The old footbridge was no longer sufficient. The work must be “Completed in a fine and substantial and workmanlike manner on or before the first of July next”. Possibly the repair being carried out now is the first larger scale repair since the 18th century original construction. The current work is to channel away standing water from the road surface that has been draining into the main structure, where, if left would eventually damage the stonework. But once that has been completed the original stonemasons’ work in creating the magnificent stone vault over the river and their fashioning of the tall, pyramidal coping stones on the parapet walls—unique I believe to Pont Newydd—will no doubt serve to carry “carts and carriages” across the Clwyd for many years to come. And, no doubt, all the heavy good and agricultural vehicles of the 21s1 Century as well.
In December 2011, MILES ANDERSON researched Llanfiar’s “New Bridge” at Eyarth