An Evaluation of the Construction of Britannia Bridge Essay

An Evaluation of the Construction of Britannia Bridge Essay

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Completed in 1850 Brittania Bridge was the brainchild of Robert Stephenson and at the time was at the cutting edge of civil engineering, with all aspects of construction being on an unprecedented scale. Construction began in 1846 and was completed by 1850, it was intended that the bridge carry the Chester and Holyhead railway across the Menai Strait. Brittania Bridge had to be a tubular bridge to meet the criteria set by the board of admiralty, that the span of the bridge should be at least 100ft above the Menai Straits at all points. This was the first of many issues met and overcome during the conception and construction of the bridge.
The proposed route for the railway line was originally surveyed in 1838 by George Stephenson, however it was intended that the route use the existing Menai Suspension bridge to cross the Menai Strait (Robbins, 1981). The rail carriages would be pulled across the bridge by horses; Robert Stephenson didn’t feel this was adequate and proposed that a new bridge should be built instead. It is now widely accepted that under the increased loading on the Menai suspension bridge would have collapsed (Beckett, 1984). In 1845 Robert Stephenson managed to convince parliament that the project was feasible, although at this point no in-depth analysis had been conducted. This analysis fell to William Fairbairn; he expressed the opinion that the tubular structure could be constructed in such a way that they could not only support their own weight but also a uniformly distributed load of 20,000 kn. This high load capacity was due to the revolutionary design, with cellular flanges on the top and bottom of the tubes, resisting compressional failure (Beckett, 1984). Fairbairn also proposed that a catenary form of c...

... middle of paper ...

... been preserved on the Caernarvon side of the bridge, the lasting legacy of such a magnificent feat of Victorian engineering.

Works Cited

BECKETT, D. 1984. Stephensons' Britain, Newton Abbot, Devon ; North Pomfret, Vt, David & Charles.
BREESE, G. 2001. The bridges of Wales, Llanrwst, Wales, Gwasg Carrech Gwalch.
ROBBINS, M. 1981. George & Robert Stephenson, London, H.M.S.O.
Patrick Robertson, Menai Heritage Experience — History of the Britannia Bridge. Available at: [Accessed October 28, 2011].
Warren Kovach, Menai Strait Bridges. Menai Strait Bridges. Available at: [Accessed October 25, 2011].
Patrick Robertson, Menai Heritage Experience — History of the Britannia Bridge. Available at: [Accessed October 28, 2011].

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