Work Continues To Restore Historic Barmouth Viaduct

Marine structure repairs have recommenced to renovate a 154-year-old bridge in a scenic area of North Wales. The Grade II listed Barmouth viaduct was built in 1867, and is now undergoing its biggest ever upgrade, New Civil Engineer (NCE) reports.

The work has been planned in three shorter phases, rather than a longer stretch, to avoid disruption to the tourist hub of Barmouth, which is especially popular in the summer months. The £30m restoration project began in 2020, and is taking place over three years.

The 730-metre bridge in Gwynedd spans the Mawddach Estuary in Cardigan Bay, and is one of the longest timber viaducts still in use today. It was designed and constructed for the Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway, and the line runs to Pwllheli on the Llyn Peninsula. It is supported by 113 wooden trestles.

Network Rail route director for Wales and Borders Bill Kelly told NCE: “We have carefully planned our £30M restoration of Barmouth Viaduct so that most of our work takes place outside the peak summer season, but also avoiding the worst of the winter months when bad weather would make the work too challenging.”

He added: “The upgrade will allow us to continue to run a safe, reliable and efficient railway, and secure the future of Barmouth Bridge for years to come.”

Network Rail will replace over 1,000 timber and metal parts of the bridge, including all of the timber beams. Although the bridge incorporates a swing mechanism to allow for the passage of tall ships, this has fallen into disuse, and will be preserved for aesthetic purposes only.

The bridge also underwent major repairs during the 1980’s, when it suffered severe marine woodworm corrosion in 69 of its supporting pillars, according to the BBC. It has also survived two world wars, and had a near miss in 1946 when a live naval mine was washed against a pillar, but didn’t detonate.