Bridge Street Bridge, Neath

Bridge Street Bridge, Neath

The modern footbridge here presents a cross-section of the area’s transport history as it crosses the once-navigable river Neath, the Tennant Canal, two roads and a railway. Unsually, the bridge is named after the street named after the bridge!

A wooden bridge here was recorded in the 16th century. The surviving three-arch stone bridge over the river dates from the 1790s and was designed by Thomas Edwards. His dad William had erected Europe’s longest bridge span in Pontypridd. For centuries, ships sailed up the river to Neath. Smaller vessels passed under the bridge to reach Aberdulais.

The layout west of the bridge was modified in the 1820s to take the road over the new Tennant Canal, privately built by entrepreneur George Tennant.

The area was altered again during construction of the Neath and Brecon Railway in the 1860s. The company’s station, north of today’s footbridge, was known as Neath Low Level, then Neath Bridge Street and finally Neath Riverside. It closed in 1964 but the railway was retained for coal trains, latterly from Onllwyn. One of the station platforms survives.

Further changes were made in the area in the 1970s for construction of the A465 dual carriageway between the railway and canal. This severed the old road, and the bridge became a traffic-free route.

Before the river was bridged, travellers approached it with trepidation. Among them was Gerald of Wales, on his tour of Wales with the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1188. Having left Margam Abbey, the group had waited for the ebb tide to lose its strength before crossing the river Afan. Guided by the lord of Nedd-Afan, Morgan ap Caradog ab Iestyn, they then navigated quicksands to reach the river Neath. Gerald’s horse sank into the ground and was almost lost. The party crossed the river in a boat. Neath Abbey was on their right as they continued on dry land towards Swansea.

Postcode: SA11 1RR    View Location Map

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