Telford’s Irish Mail road tour

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Telford’s Irish Mail road tour

The great engineer Thomas Telford transformed the journey between London and Holyhead with his new road. Previously 18 Turnpike Trusts provided primitive roads. Irish MPs and the Post Office demanded a faster and more reliable route for the Irish Mail, and Telford surveyed the route in detail in 1815.

The jewel in the crown was his daring suspension bridge over the Menai Strait, but the route – now known as the A5 – includes many other fine examples of civil engineering as it passes through breathtaking mountain scenery in North Wales. Telford insisted on solid foundations for the road, and in 2000 an archeaological study by Cadw (Wales’ historic monuments agency) found that c.40% of the original remained, beneath and beside the modern road. He also ensured that the horses drawing the coaches faced no gradient steeper than 1 in 20.

Our tour along the A5 shows how the road influenced communities along the route, as well as other interesting aspects of local history including folklore and the meanings of place names. If you’re driving along the A5, you can stop off at places along the way and use our QR codes to learn about each place, but please be sure not to use your mobile phone or tablet while driving.

At each location, you can scan the first QR code for a summary text about that place's background. Scan the second code to download the relevant page from to your smartphone or tablet. Once you've read the page, you can use the navigation icons at the foot of the page to discover the next featured place along the route in your direction of travel.

To browse the QR-code tour online, select one of the entry points to the route below: