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110-year-old bridge in Swansea set to be removed

A key moment in the preservation of an historic Swansea landmark is due to take place on Sunday, July 14.

The activity will see more than 20 construction professionals, a 53m-tall crane and an articulated low-loader truck remove Landore’s 110-year-old Bascule Bridge for restoration.

The lift is being carried out by the Swansea Highways Partnership (SHP) on behalf of Swansea Council.

The bridge – which spans the River Tawe near the Liberty Stadium and weighs around 70 tonnes – is earmarked by the council as a key feature of the immediate area’s bright future.

Detailed preparation work for moving it has been taking place on site for several weeks. The aim is to re-install the restored structure next year following assessment and restoration work at Afon Engineering, Swansea Vale.

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Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “We are going to restore and preserve this significant heritage landmark and we aim to carry out the lift on July 14.

“This is big news for the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks area – which is undergoing an exciting regeneration – and for Swansea which is so proud of its industrial past.

“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.

“Our work on the Bascule Bridge will complement the work we are doing to develop a world class tourist destination at the copperworks; this has attracted National Lottery Heritage

Funding of £3.75m to restore the Powerhouse for future use as a Penderyn Distillery visitor attraction.”

A unique feature of Swansea’s industrial heritage, 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 works

The span between two riverbank stone abutments is around 50m in length and around 3m wide.

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A large part of the deck could originally be lifted using a hand-cranked mechanism to allow boats up and down the river.

It was a key river crossing for the copperworks – and the new work will complement other local transformation such as that with Penderyn Whisky.

Due to safety concerns the bridge has been fenced off to the public since 1999. It has hindered river craft travelling upstream.

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

The initial main work on the steel elements is being funded by Welsh Government Targeted Regeneration and Investment funding support.

River users, nearby residents and businesses have been kept up to date by council officers involved in July 14’s lift – and road signs indicating the temporary closure of the Brunel Way road bridge are now in place.

This road bridge is due to be closed on Saturday, July 13, from 6pm to around 10pm, to allow for preparatory works.

It is due to close the following day from 6am for several hours as the lift takes place.

During the temporary closure, diversion routes will be signposted and traffic marshals will aid drivers. Road access will be maintained to the:

  • Liberty Stadium and Morfa Industrial Estate from the main A4217 near the stadium
  • Morfa Retail Park, Swansea Enterprise Zone and Copper Quarter residential area via the main A4217 near the Swansea Tennis Centre.

The temporary closure will see the road bridge out of bounds to pedestrians who can use the neighbouring footbridge. Those who wish to see the lift take place are encouraged to look on from a distance; SHP personnel will be on hand to guide them.

Cllr Francis-Davies said: “We thank the public for their understanding and patience at this time as we undertake the complex operation to remove the bridge for restoration.

“Heritage work of this nature will help highlight Swansea’s past, present and future as we celebrate 50 years as city.”

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