Recently Morriston historian Andre featured a thread on his Facebook page which produced an interesting exchange about bridges over the Tawe.
There have been and still are several in the Morriston area starting with the Beaufort Bridge which was part of John Morris’ Lower Forest Works which preceded his Morris Town ,and up to the M4 motorway bridge at Ynysforgan.
I remember the old Beaufort Bridge as a kid I used to cross it from the “ups and downs” still smouldering tip( what were we breathing in?) to the scrap yard where you could play in ex Army Armoured vehicles which had been decommissioned for scrap.
Further along was the Wychtree Bridge which i recall collapsing one night and there was nearly a disaster.
I have read somewhere that originally Wychtree Bridge was a wooden structure and a toll bridge, which replaced a boat ferry.
Very close by there was a railway bridge, was that just for the tinplate works?
My recollection was that eels would “swarm” underneath it at some point in the year. Incredible since the water was so polluted!
I have also read ,and recently seen a map which shows, that were three further bridges across the river one near Tircanol and two more across the original “ynys of Morgan”- an islet in the Tawe which now looks to form the boundaries of a caravan park. The one at Tircanol looks to be very close to the site of the new road bridge.
Then there are the railway bridge and the very modern M4 road bridge. When were they built?
Hi,I too remember the ups and downs today part of Beaufort road industrial estate,and the Armoured cars parked outside George Cohens 600 Group works,they also cut up a lot of Great Western and British rail Locomotives and even a few sets of the old blue Pullmans that ran from Swansea,along with Birds scrapyard at Manoravon works just up the railway tracks,I have photos of steam and diesel units being cut up there,they even scrapped London Transport tube trains there,I believe the Wychtree bridge was a toll bridge as Llansamlet road was originally a toll road,there was a river crossing at one time virtually behind the old Gospel Hall in Bush Road/Nixon Terrace area[there was a coach house there that became two houses],and crossed the river into todays Pant Y Blawd Road which came into Llansamlet alongside the church,I remember the wooden crossing bridge alongside the upper forest works I to remember the young elvers around the support timbers you could catch them by the bucketful,that bridge was part of the Midland Railways Morriston Branch that went to Brecon and beyond[1870s or thereabout],there were another two virtually identical,one at Ynystawe[behind the Millers]the other between the old Glanyravon[old Clydach market site, and once part of Rees and Kirbys] and Mond works crossing over the river to Glais,all made from large blocked Canadian pine,which was soaked in pitch and were black,I remember the original bridge at the Beaufort and recall it being replaced with a Bailey type iron one,cannot recall any others in the Morriston area,the Green bridge at Ynystawe was put there in the late twenties and was built by Rees and Kirby at Foundry Road Morriston,it has a twin which is virtually identical,the Slip bridge thankfully still with us,a friend of mine Peter Lloyd from Parc Y Duke had the blueprints from Kirbys for the bridges which he picked up from the drawing office[he worked there] when they were being thrown out,I remember the river downstream from Parkers bend [Caravan Park today]being very shallow and easy to cross during the summer,and was also easy to cross at the weir which was there to provide water for the mills via a leat [Mill stream way is named after it] to the forest works]and was situated just below the railway viaduct near lower Ynystawe,s Ynysallan Road,I would love to see the drawings/diagrams/photos etc, of any other crossings on the river and I am glad to see the water counter balanced bridge over the Tawe preserved alongside the Liberty stadium,it has a Cadw order on it,but stating that so does Danbart house,St,Johns church,and the Palace theatre,looking at the state of these building it does not say much for Cadw,the ynystawe railway viaduct was constructed 1910/12,and the M4 motorway bridge about 1972ish,I have a photograph taken off the viaduct looking towards Ynysforgan clearly showing the chapel in Clydach road that was demolished to make way for the motorway
As always your knowledge of the old Morriston infrastructure is astounding.
I remember the red London Underground trains lined up waiting to be scrapped.They seemed to be there a while.
Is Parker’s Bend a historical name for that part of the River or is it more current? Who was Parker?
After some searching I managed to find the painting of the original “Beaufort Bridge” which can be seen at :
Hi,the name Parkers bend was known to most of the youngsters who lived in ynysforgan,Parker being the family name of the family who had the farm alongside the river and who I believe own the the riverside caravan park today,the bend adjoined Llanlienwen brook which still goes into the river at this point it runs via a tunnel under Clydach road and the former canal and railway lines of both the Midland and Great Western branch lines[todays Morriston by pass]I remember well in the late fifties Velindre steelworks laid a pipeline all the way from the works down under the side of todays rugby club and into the brook,it had a pumphouse just off the bottom of Vicarage road alongside the railway bridge that carries the road into C.R.C.quarry[still there],where it entered the river Tawe there was allways a lot of steam and a large covering of foam on its surface and it smelled quite a bit of detergent,I have seen the site you posted info on and the lovely view of the bridge,there is a painting of the forest copperworks on the back wall of the wetherspoons Red Lion in Morriston and is almost identical,Jim Lloyd [Super Jim of s4c Twrio programme] who is a Swansea pottery expert and lives in Ynysforgan has I believe to be the only Swansea pottery large jug with that scene on it, its very early 1780/90s and is in remarkable condition,I remember the London tube trains being stored where today at the rear of Asda [they are putting in a flood prevention scheme at this moment]there were line after line of them kept there awaiting their fate in Birds Manoravon scrapyard,along with hundreds of railway waggons and coaches,you were able to purchase large railway box/fruit vans for £15,lots still around mostly used by local farmers,I wonder if anyone remembers the South Wales blue Pullman sets [forerunner of the 125s]late sixties,there were only seven sets they did not last to long one set ended up in Cohens 600 group at Morriston[off Beaufort Road]I have recently [since my last article] found a long mislaid lovely coloured photograph of the one set that was scrapped there sadly awaiting its end, I worked there and managed to get a seat from this set, and a coffee and hot water jug, both E.P.N.S. rescued from the scrap,and I still have them. [
In a brief visit to the vicinity of the Beaufort Bridge to day it was evident that an attractive new bridge had been recently built over the river. So the Bridge that replaced the original bridge has now itself been replaced. This news item explains:
"The new Beaufort Bridge, officially opened on Tuesday October 15, gives pedestrians and cyclists a river crossing over the Tawe between the Morriston community and Swansea Enterprise Park.
With a span of about 46 metres and an overall width of about 2.5 metres, the new bridge is positioned at a higher level than the previous old bridge, which was sited about 20 metres further north. Its higher position in the river channel means it won't hold back flood flows.
The new bridge is part of a £7 million scheme to reduce the level of flood risk from the River Tawe in the area south of the M4 and north of the London-Swansea railway bridges. This includes areas like Swansea Vale, Swansea Enterprise Park, the Riverside Caravan Park, Beaufort Industrial Estate and Plasmarl Industrial Estate."
The removal of the previous bridge has left exposed on the bank of the river what looks like the original brick and stone work of the abuttments of the first bridge which must have been there for nearly 250 years and preceded Morris' Town.
Crossing over the new bridge to the east bank there is a roofless building relic that must have been part of either the copperworks or the subsequent tin plate works on the site.
Found this on the Library of Wales site
"Turnpike road by Ty Canol Farm house. Clydach Road A4067. Ty Canol (CH) 77a. lr. 2p.
Nant Cwmrhydyceirw goes under the road and joins the Tawe near to where the
Morriston Tinplate Works stood and where the old Forest Bridge was. The latter was the principal crossing point of the Tawe in this part of the Lower Swansea Valley before the building of the Wychtree Bridge"
This supports what Dursley said and unless the "nant" has been re routed its current exit into the Tawe marks the point where this historic bridge was located.
I found an illustration of the Lower Forest Copper Works which is in a book "Copperopolis" and which seems to show that the roofless building near the Beaufort Bridge is part of ,or more probably built on the foundations of, the original Morris works. As the copper smelting was done on the west bank of the Tawe, would this building on the east bank have been some sort of store of copper ingots before they moved on to be rolled?
The drawing can be seen on:
I had a look again at the cutaway illustration of the lower forest copper works from "Copperopilis" and wondered if any of the houses or partial remnants of houses shown in the illustration between the Beaufort Bridge and Wychtree Bridge remain, albeit modernised.
If so they would be relics of Morriston before it became Morriston!
I worked for the Tinplate Division of Steel co of Wales in the 1960s. I know that the Velindre plant was closed. I have not been able to find the site on Google Earth. I would be very grateful if somebody could let me know the GPS coordinates. I saw what was left of it in about 2000 - a very sad sight.I would like to see what it's like now.
Thank you, and regards to all ex-SCW colleagues.
Where does the Nant enter the Tawe after the building of the new A4067 , it must be in some underground culvert soon after crossing the old A4067. From Google Maps it is difficult to say but there are two possibilities and for each a claim could be made to be location of the first ever Tawe bridge crossing.
A clue to where the oldest bridge was probably located is in the 1877 map of Morriston which shows Old Bridge Farm between the Tawe and the back of Tirpenry St houses. . The land to the right of the new road, which follows the railway line that dissected the Farm, and the river are remnants of the fields ( opposite side of the River from Pant y Blawdd) it was in that area that the Nant flowed into the River
I had cause to look at one of those 19th century maps to over lay the "Nant" outflow map and noticed something I recall from my youth.. Near the canal in the spot where Rees & Kirby would eventually be located and Bush Road there is the outline of what looks like a large Wellington boot. It was what I think was known as the "Giants Foot"
Just walked up the river footpath and the Nant emerges on the far bank just after the painted walls end. There are large old dressed stones adjacent to the outflow and again on the near bank . Could these be the abutments of the old bridge or just very old river erosion protection. There is no evidence of other bank protection up or down stream.
Snippet of information about the Wychtree Bridge in tolls in 1819
"Pontage duties collected at the Wich-Tree Bridge, Morriston, will be let to the best bidder at the Guildhall, on Jan. 4th."