Tan y Bwlch Bridge
|Tan y Bwlch Bridge|
Lyd on the bridge. Photo: Talsarnau Times
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Tan y Bwlch bridge, by which the Ffestiniog Railway crosses the B4410 Llanfrothen to Maentwrog road, was built in 1854, and therefore predates the coming of steam operation by some 9 years. At the time of building, and until 1873, there was no Tan y Bwlch station either, the nearest stopping-place being Hafod y Llyn. The original alignment of the road crossed the railway on the level at a point a little nearer the present station. The road was diverted to pass under the new bridge, which has cast-iron girders, each carrying a plate stating they were manufactured at Boston Lodge Foundry. Whether the girders seen today are the originals is called into question by some, but there seems to be no record of any replacement being installed. The road under the bridge is very narrow, but was widened later on the Maentwrog side to allow room for a junction for an approach road to the station.
An interesting point is that George Borrow, in "Wild Wales", passed this way in 1854 on his north-to-south walk through Wales, but makes no mention of any bridge, or even the railway. An article dealing more fully with Borrow's walk through WHR/FR country appeared in the Heritage Journal. But then he reportedly hated anything remotely industrial, though not so much as to prevent him making use of trains to cross England from his East Anglia home to Chester!
2004 marked the 150th birthday of the bridge, and at the Heritage Group AGM dinner held at Tan y Bwlch in October the health of the bridge was drunk in Champagne, after which a motley group of members proceeded down the line to the bridge in semi-darkness, led by Adrian Gray.
The bridge was renovated and repainted by a volunteer-led project in 2016.
Looking from the road below, Prince crossing