Britannia Bridge

Coordinates: 52°55′29″N 4°07′39″W / 52.92462°N 4.1274°W / 52.92462; -4.1274
From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
Britannia Bridge
An early movement prior to opening was the transfer of Loco 87 and Carriage 2090 to Dinas, also part of a "training exercise"
Type Bridge
Level Crossing
Status In Use
Crossing name Britannia Bridge Crossing
Construction No. UB221
Operational No. UB59.40
Latitude 52:55:29N
Longitude 4:07:39W
Grid reference SH570384
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52°55′29″N 4°07′39″W / 52.92462°N 4.1274°W / 52.92462; -4.1274

Britannia Bridge is a combined bridge and level crossing where the Welsh Highland Railway crosses both the eastern end of Porthmadog High street and the Afon Glaslyn.


A bridge has existed on this site for 200 years, linking Ynys Tywyn and the Cob with Porthmadog town centre. It is thought that the foundations and piers were constructed by Jesse Hartley (1780-1860)[nb 1], around 1810, probably in connection the construction of the Cob. There are references, and a diagram in the deposited plans of "Improvements to The Harbour and Port of Portmadoc" dated 1846. It was also the route of the Festiniog Railway line to the slate wharves on the other side of the harbour and to its original mileage datum (Zero point), where the Festiniog Railway officially started, at the northernmost end of the Welsh Slate Company's Wharf. The line over the Britannia Bridge served also to connect with the Croesor Tramway and the Gorseddau line after it had converted gauge.

Around 1922 the bridge was rebuilt, in preparation for the original Welsh Highland Railway. The track was realigned in the form of the Junction Railway to connect with the WHR. Passenger trains operated over the bridge and along the road to the end of Madoc Street (where the WHR proper started) from 1923 to 1936. A minor amount of goods traffic continued until the end of FR operations in 1946.

During the early part of the FR revival, the track remaining in situ was used for obtaining supplies from the local petrol station, and assisting in the further recovery of track. The line over the bridge was eventually removed in 1958.

The bridge has subsequently been improved, lastly in 1996, and is now capable of carrying the European loading limit of 44 tonne GLW.

In 2008, with the rebuilding of the Welsh Highland, the bridge was widened at the north-west corner to allow for the curve on to the new alignment of the CTRL. The new track was laid with tramway-type grooved rail set in concrete.

The crossing is activated by the Porthmadog-Pont Croesor token being inserted into a key switch just in advance of the crossing. In the Up (Porthmadog) direction, activation has to be accepted by Porthmadog Signal Box. The operation of the level crossing has to be cancelled in the signal box.

The level crossing being activated by the Porthmadog-Pont Croesor token being inserted into the key switch on platform two at Harbour Station.
Work being undertaken to widen the bridge, June 2008

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dr Dafydd Gwyn, in a personal communication, wrote: "Hartley was later one of the foremost dock engineers in Britain, and engineer to the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board. His work at Albert Dock is famous, but is only a small part of his work at Liverpool."