Calls to replace missing Britannia Bridge plaques three months after removal

A BANGOR resident has called on the missing metal commemorative plaques at the Britannia Bridge across the Menai Strait to be replaced, three months after they went missing.

Of the three plaques, which were part of the exhibit of the original bridge’s construction on the Gwynedd side of the Menai Strait, two were noticed to have disappeared on Wednesday, September 29.

The plaques were still in place when a member of the Menai Bridge Community Heritage Trust led a guided tour, which included a visit to the Britannia Bridge, the previous day.

William Day, of Treborth, noticed the missing two had not yet been replaced during a walk with his wife on December 27, with clear evidence of vandalism.

Mr Day, who is the North Wales representative of the Panel for Historic Engineering Works, also noticed evidence of vandalism to a fourth plaque on one of the bridge’s piers.

North Wales Chronicle: The fourth plaque, commemorating the commencement of the road crossing in 1978. Photo: William DayThe fourth plaque, commemorating the commencement of the road crossing in 1978. Photo: William Day

He said: “The two (plaques) reported as missing on October 1 have still not been replaced and the vandalism is clearly evident.

“What people often don’t realise is that there is a fourth plaque on one of the piers of the bridge, commemorating the commencement of the road crossing in 1978.

“I was keen to check whether that had also been vandalised, and was disappointed to find that there was clear evidence of vandalism on that plaque as well.”

Mr Day also sent photographs of the damage to this fourth plaque, which “clearly show chisel marks on the plaque itself where the fixings have been hacked off as well as damage to the surrounding stone”.

Also a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Mr Day added: “As you can imagine, the bridges are of special interest to us as they are the work of two past presidents, Thomas Telford and Robert Stephenson.

“They are also both structures of international importance, and are iconic across the world.

“If you visit the bridge house at Menai Suspension Bridge, you will find plaques commemorating the bridge erected by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and there are similar plaques in Conwy celebrating Telford’s and Stephenson’s bridges.”

North Wales Chronicle: "These clearly show chisel marks on the plaque itself where the fixings have been hacked off as well as damage to the surrounding stone." Photo: William Day“These clearly show chisel marks on the plaque itself where the fixings have been hacked off as well as damage to the surrounding stone.” Photo: William Day

Attempts are being made to contact Network Rail, who is responsible for the site, while Mr Day added: “We will also be in contact with Network Rail and hopefully, between us, get things moving.”

The bridge has been in existence since the mid-1840s and is now comprised of two tiers, the second of which was opened in 1980.

In October, a spokesperson for Network Rail said: “We have been made aware of one of the commemorative plaques on Britannia Bridge being removed.

“We are already working on replacing the plaque and it will be installed as soon as possible.”

North Wales Chronicle | Anglesey