09 May 2022

Welsh Bridges: 23. Dernol Footbridge, River Wye

This was the third of three bridges that I tried to visit on the River Wye in Powys in August this year.

The first was barely a ghost, and the second a literal washout. Would it be third time lucky?

I parked up in a layby on the A470, north-east of the bridge, and followed a public right of way through the fields and downhill towards the site of the bridge.

A bridge! A palpable bridge!

Alan Crow's book Bridges on the River Wye indicates that a suspension footbridge was built here in 1975 by the Newbridge-on-Wye firm N.R. Hope. From the description, it is the same bridge that can be seen today, except that all or much of the fabric may have been renewed. Powys County Council tell me that the bridge was "refurbished" in 2018.

The bridge is of essentially the same design as the now-destroyed Cwmcoch footbridge, constructed by the same builder in 1967.

Timber towers sit on concrete footings, and support a steel tube or roller over which the main cables pass. Additional stay cables are attached to the rear face of the towers.

The main cables are anchored to steel cantilever beams at each end of the bridge. Three parapet wires on each side of the bridge are also tensioned against these cantilevers, and the tower stay cables are spliced into the lower of these parapet wires.

The bridge floor comprises three timber planks running longitudinally, sitting on transverse timber members. Every third cross-member also provides the support for braced parapet posts.

Below the bridge decking, six parallel wires run longitudinally, and these provide substantial support to the deck along most of its length, as there are no vertical hangers as you would expect on a conventional suspension bridge. The deck wires are anchored to steel cross-members attached to the main anchor stanchions.

The main suspension cables only directly support the middle part of the deck. The two cables pass below grooved longitudinal timber members on each edge of the bridge.

In the absence of the under-deck wires, this would be quite an unstable arrangement, as the central portion would "rock" longitudinally under load. The deck wires are therefore essential both to prevent that rocking, and to support the deck between the points where the main cables connect.

I've included a few more photographs to illustrate both the details and the setting of this attractive, economical bridge, and a video to show how much it moves under a single person load.

Further information:

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