Barmouth Bridge, Wales, UK
Barmouth Bridge, Wales, UK

Barmouth Bridge, Wales, UK

The Barmouth Bridge (Welsh: Pont Abermaw) is a single-track largely wooden railway viaduct that crosses the estuary of the Afon Mawddach river on the coast of Cardigan Bay between Morfa Mawddach and Barmouth in Gwynedd, Wales. A footbridge is incorporated on the landward side and pedestrians can walk by the side of the track across the river on payment of a toll of 70 pence (cycles 30 pence extra).

The toll is the same for a single or same day return crossing. The distance is about 900 yards (820 m). The viaduct carries the Cambrian Line, the main line of the former Cambrian Railways, which runs from Shrewsbury, England to Pwllheli, and carries passenger trains operated by Arriva Trains Wales.

The bridge was built by the Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway and opened in 1867. As built, it included a lifting drawbridge section to permit the passage of tall ships, was constructed entirely of wood. The drawbridge section, at the northern end of the bridge, was rebuilt in 1901 as a swing bridge with two steel spans.

Passenger train services over the bridge declined significantly during the 1960s, when the Ruabon to Barmouth line via Llangollen and Dolgellau was closed causing all traffic to take the longer and slower route from Shrewsbury via Machynlleth and Dovey Junction. The old trackbed from Morfa Mawddach railway station to Dolgellau now forms the Mawddach Trail, a walk and cycle trail.

Serious doubts in 1980 concerning the safety of the ageing wooden structure (thanks to an attack by the toredo marine worm) under the weight of modern locomotives led to a ban on locomotive-hauled trains. The ban brought the immediate cessation of the diminishing freight traffic north of Tywyn, including explosives traffic to and from the factory at Penrhyndeudraeth. That traffic was re-routed via Maentwrog Road railway station and the Conwy Valley Line.

On 13 April 1986 British Rail Class 37 37427 was named “Bont Y Bermo” to celebrate the (short-lived) re-introduction of locomotive-hauled trains following repairs in 1985-1986. Following major repairs the weight restriction was relaxed in 2005, and locomotive-hauled trains have again been allowed to cross.

The first road crossing of the Afon Mawddach is a toll bridge at Penmaenpool about 5 miles (8 km) further upstream and suitable only for motor cars and light vans. Heavier road vehicles must use the first public road bridge, which is at Dolgellau about 10 miles (16 km) from Barmouth.


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