Double-arch canal bridge, Brecon

Double-arch canal bridge, Brecon

As you approach along the towpath, this bridge may look like many others which cross the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal. But if you take a closer look you’ll see a second, smaller, arch on the north side – built for early railway wagons.

The canal was built from 1797 to 1800 and initially this structure was bridge number two (the sequence started near the Brecon terminus). The second arch was constructed c.1815 to carry the road over the new Hay Railway, whose tracks came alongside the canal here at Watton Wharf for transhipment of goods. Horses hauled the railway wagons to Talgarth, Hay-on-Wye and Eardisley.

The railway and canal eventually passed into Great Western Railway ownership. On the western bridge parapet there’s still an iron GWR notice about the structure’s weight restriction.

The house you can see north west of the bridge was built for collecting tolls from passing canal boats.

A little eastwards along the towpath stands a row of limekilns where limestone was burned to form lime – used to fertilise fields and for builders’ mortar. Canal boats provided cheap transport for heavy bulk materials including the limestone and coal needed for lime production. Here the raw materials were fed into the tops of the kilns from the towpath.

The best way to view the kilns is to follow the minor road where it diverges from the towpath. The lime was transported along this road. In 2018 the Canal & River Trust completed the restoration of the limekilns here and at Llangattock and Goytre – all of which are listed buildings – with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Brecon Beacons Trust.

Postcode: LD3 7EN    View Location Map

CRT website – Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal