Places of Interest: Menai Bridge

 

Menai Bridge ‘s two impressive bridges provide Anglesey ‘s physical links with the mainland.

Thomas Telford’s Menai Suspension Bridge (Pont Menai), opened in 1826. The world’s first iron suspension bridge, it is 1,265ft/305m long, with a central span of 579ft / 177m with its roadway set 98ft / 30m above the water to allow tall ships to sail beneath. The Britannia Bridge (Pont Brittania), opened in 1850, is a magnificent prototype of box-girder design by William Fairbairn and Robert Stephenson. Originally built to carry rail traffic, this bridge was converted to a double-decked structure following a catastrophic fire in 1970. It now carries both rail and road traffic.

A short walk from Menai Bridge town centre brings the visitor to the base of the Menai Suspension Bridge , from where the true scale of this remarkable structure is best appreciated. The Belgian Promenade (built by Flemish refugees from the Great War between 1914-16) leads south west from here shortly reaching a causeway that links Church Island and the ancient Church of St Tysilio to the shore. A short walk around the church cemetery affords wonderful views of the Menai Strait , both bridges and Ynys Gorad Goch Island, whose residents once made a living from the fish caught at the traps built there.

Close up views of the Britannia Bridge can be had from the car park of the picturesque St Mary’s Church , near the Carreg Bran Hotel (signposted off the A5 a short way west of Menai Bridge). There is also a monument to Nelson on the shore of the Strait, a short stroll away.

Menai Bridge has a selection of interesting shops, including antiques, books and ironmongers as well as the Tegfryn Art Gallery . There is also a good collection of pubs and restaurants catering for all tastes. The town has a bowling green and hosts two races in the annual Menai Strait Joint Regatta.

The town’s male voice choir, Cantorion Menai , welcomes visitors to rehearsals (Tuesdays, 7.30pm-9.30pm, Capel Mawr Schoolhouse, phone: 01248 712581) and early March sees the Menai Bridge Urdd children’s Eisteddfod, celebrating traditional Welsh culture.