The building of Lower Town bridge

Mwsland a'r hen bont / Mwsland and the old bridge c.1875
Henry Jackson- Ein Hanes
Henry Jackson- Ein Hanes

An early photograph exists of the stone bridge which crossed the River Gwaun at Lower Town prior to the building of the present bridge in 1875; it represents quite an early photographic record of Lower Town. As this image was released as a postcard, many will have seen the image previously

 An album recently lent to Ein Hanes on Fishguard Square has what appears to be an original image of this view – the photographer of which is believed to have been Henry Jackson who was an active photographer in the area from around 1870.

A second image in the album however is unlikely to be known to many. It shows a group of men  which the notation under the image indicates, were the contractors who actually built the bridge in around 1875.

The decision to provide a new bridge was decided at the Pembrokeshire Spring Quarter Sessions in 1874 when a motion was put forward that “inasmuch as the foundations of Fishguard bridge are in so defective a state as to make future reparations thereon useless”

The accompanying Surveyor’s report advised that the foundations of the old bridge had been damaged by flooding and it was not appropriate to spend any further monies upon it.  So it was agreed that a new bridge was necessary and the inevitable committee was appointed to oversee the project. Committee members were Messrs James Bevan Bowen, John Harvey,    Lewis Matthews, John Worthington, Hugh Lloyd Harries and Charles Henry Barham. The sum of £500 was to be placed at their disposal for the project costs.

The following Quarter Sessions agreed that the bridge should be one arch rather than two and should be built by a contractor on a schedule of costs rather than by the day. The anticipated cost was to be £520.  There was also a proposal to provide as part of the project a tramway beneath the bridge but this was not proceeded with.

The Pembrokeshire Quarter Sessions held in the summer of 1875 recorded that the bridge had been completed and was now open to traffic and that the contractor had carried out the work satisfactorily. The piers of the old bridge were agreed to be removed to avoid any risk of them damaging the new bridge.  Concern was expressed by the Surveyor that the mill owner a little further upstream had created a river diversion which could damage the bridge foundations.

Reports of the Pembrokeshire Quarter Sessions taken from the Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser

Comments about this page

  • It’s very touching, and fortunate for us, that the photographer thought to make this picture of the builders of the bridge (and their hats!)

    The view over Mwsland shows that the river and its banks had a very different conformation from today. It was a busy working area. On the left of the image can be seen the Pystyll Hotch lime kiln which has in recent years been restored by a private individual.

    By Natasha de Chroustchoff (23/04/2023)

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