• LOCATION 19 | Discovering Conwy: The Medieval Walled Town on a Waterfront

    Bridges View

    Walk up the steps, past a huge anchor raised by a local trawler the Kilvarock who rescued 325 American cruise ship passengers whose tender was drifting towards dangerous rocks.

    Once at the top, make your way over the bridge, along the pavement.

    To your left is the broad Conwy estuary and an important part of the history of Conwy involves it's various crossings. Up until the 19th century travellers - and their coach and horses had to take ferries across a notoriously dangerous river mouth with several fatal disasters.

    You can see cars driving across the cob on the estuary constructed by Thomas Telford in three years from 1822 which led to his famous suspension bridge which we will be crossing - and learning about soon.

    Today those cars are proceeding on to the 1950s road bridge - the arch you can see in front of you -built when the Victorian suspension bridge - designed for horse and carts - could no longer cope with the traffic pouring in and out of North Wales.

    All this traffic was squeezed through the centre of Conwy and under narrow arches in the medieval walls. By the 1980s it was obvious a third road crossing was needed but understandably a massive concrete structure would ruin the view of the magnificent castle so what to do?

    A tunnel was settled on but it is notoriously difficult to bore into estuarine sand so engineers decided on Great Britain's first immersed tube tunnel. Round the corner to your left, they hollowed out a basin and cast reinforced concrete prefabricated units.

    A trench was dredged and each section - the size of a liner - was floated out, lowered into place and joined them together. The Conwy tunnel was opened by her majesty the Queen in 1990 and the square arch on the other side of the river marks the start of the 3/4 mile long tunnel beneath the river on your left

    The casting basin is now Conwy Marina and a lot of the sand dredged out was sculpted to form the RSPB bird reserve the other side of the bridges

    Not long after Telford built his road bridge the railway came to North Wales and you can't put trains on to a suspension bridge so another solution had to be found. The square grey tube structure you can see was built by another famous Scottish engineer Robert Stephenson - son of the Rocket Man (no not Elton John but George Stephenson steam engine builder).

    If you look into the river to your left you will probably see the raft which the mussels are landed on and packed into net bags ready for processing. There is also a great view of the castle behind you.

    Keep going until we have crossed the bridge and head for the pedestrian crossing ahead.

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Discovering Conwy: The Medieval Walled Town on a Waterfront