Stone lions, Britannia Bridge


Stone lions, Britannia Bridge, Treborth

Two pairs of stone lions flank the railway line as it approaches the Britannia Bridge from both directions. Today the view of the lions from passing trains is obscured by the Britannia Bridge’s road deck, which was added in the late 1970s. But from 1850 to 1970, passengers looking through the windows as their train rounded the bends towards the bridge saw the lions as prominent sentries outside the portals. The lions were created by sculptor John Thomas and complemented the Egyptian references in the bridge’s structural masonry.

If you're reading this after scanning the QR barcodes at the site, you can get a close look at one of the lions by following the stone track a short way downhill, then follow the short path that diverges uphill to the right.

In Victorian times, the lions inspired local poet John Evans to write his most memorable ditty. Evans believed himself to be a fine poet but his work was met with derision or delight because of its unintended inanity. He was known as Y Bardd Cocos (“The Cockle Bard”) because he sold seafood for a living.

His ditty about the stone lions is:
Pedwar llew tew
Heb ddim blew:
Dau’r ochr yma
A dau’r ochr drew.
This translates as: Four fat lions, without any fur: two this side, two on the other.
To hear the poem in Welsh, press play:Or, download mp3 (91KB)

You can read more about John Evans, including his tribute to Wales’ highest mountain, on our page about his grave in Menai Bridge.

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