Thursday 26 Jun 2003
AMERICAN HONOUR FOR NORTH WALES RAIL BRIDGE
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A railway bridge in Conwy is being honoured by a group from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) at a plaque unveiling ceremony at the bridge today (26 June).
Robert Stephenson’s tubular bridge was built in 1848 and carries the Chester to Holyhead railway line over the River Conwy. At the time it was considered to be a revolutionary design, consisting of two wrought-iron tubes, each weighing 1300 tons, which formed a 400 foot long span. Fist built on land, the tubes were floated onto the river on pontoons and then raised into position onto stone abutments.
It is one of three bridges in North Wales to be honoured in this way by the ASCE, which is visiting the UK this month. The near-by Conwy Suspension Bridge and the Menai Suspension Bridge, both designed by Thomas Telford, are also receiving plaques.
The visit to the UK comes as a result of long-standing friendship, co-operation and understanding between the Society and the UK-based Institution of Civil Engineers. Following talks to formalise the relationship, the two organisations are party to an agreement known as the Edinburgh Accord. They have agreed to work in partnership in appropriate parts of the world to promote best practice in the art and science of civil engineering. Both groups provide mutually beneficial services to members such as use of local facilities, access to research and libraries and subsidised publications.
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Plaque – 2
The UK visit is being lead by the President of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Tom Jackson who will ‘present’ two identical plaques (one in Welsh, the other in English) to Jim Cornell, non-executive director of Network Rail, the current owners of the bridge. In reality, the plaques are already in place on the side of the bridge and covered by Welsh and American flags, which Mr Cornell will remove. The plaques had to be fixed in place using a specially constructed cantilever scaffold system to span the gap over the river between a public viewing platform and the side of the bridge. Work to arrange the scaffold system and fix the plaques was carried out by Network Rail’s Structures Alliance partner Edmund Nuttall Ltd.
Speaking at the ceremony Mr Cornell said: “Receiving the plaques on behalf of Network Rail is indeed an honour as I am also Chief Executive of the Railway Heritage Trust. Without this remarkable feat of engineering, and those of Telford and his colleagues, the rail and road network in North Wales may not have developed as it did. It is incumbent upon us to preserve it for another 150 years so that future generations may also reap the benefits of being able to freely travel along the beautiful North Wales coast.”
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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
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