Industrial history - Barmouth

Barmouth Railway Bridge

Some of the most stunning views from anywhere on the Wales Coast Path are from the Barmouth bridge, a rail and pedestrian bridge nearly half a mile long which crosses the estuary of the River Mawddach on the Meirionnydd coast.

Though the bridge itself is not perhaps the most attractive of structures, the views to be obtained of Cader Idris and nearby peaks on a clear day are without rival.undefined

The bridge was built in 1867 by the Aberystwyth & Welsh Coast Railway - later taken over by the Cambrian Railways - and is almost entirely wooden in construction. It was provided with a drawbridge at its northern end to allow coastal shipping to access the up-river port of Penmaenpool, and this drawbridge was replaced by the present swing-bridge in 1901.

In 1937 this swing-bridge had a starring role in the filming of ‘The Ghost Train’, which used elaborate special effects to make it appear as if the train had plunged off the bridge into the river!

After well over a century of service, in 1980 it was discovered that the submerged parts of the bridge had been seriously weakened by teredo worms which had buried their way into the supporting piles, reducing some of them to the appearance of an Emmental cheese! Services were halted immediately; there were serious doubts as to the line’s future, and this just a decade after the coast line’s threatened closure had been successfully fought off.

Fortunately it was decided that repairs should be undertaken and the bridge has survived in full use, providing both the walker and the rail passenger with some of the most memorable views in Wales.


To plan a trip and enjoy a walk on the Wales Coast Path in this area visit our Menai, Llŷn & Meirionnydd page.