Map of the Week – Pont Britannia

Pont Britannia (Britannia Bridge)
Brittania BridgeMap: 1889 – County Series 1:2500

To celebrate St David’s Day, Cassini has been exploring our collection of historical maps of Wales and has found one of the ground breaking engineering feats of the eighteen hundreds.

Pont Britannia (Welsh for Britannia Bridge), a bridge across the Menai Strait between the island of Anglesey and the mainland of Wales, opened on 5 March 1850. When built it had the longest continuous wrought iron span in the world.

It was originally designed and built by Robert Stephenson as a tubular bridge of wrought iron rectangular box-section spans for carrying rail traffic.

In 1840, a Treasury committee decided in favour of Railway pioneer George Stephenson’s proposals, which included the Britannia Bridge, over those of Thomas Telford and final consent for the route was given in 1845. Stephenson’s son Robert was appointed as the chief engineer.

Britannia Box SectionThe design required the Menai strait to remain accessible to shipping and the bridge to be sufficiently stiff to support the heavy loading associated with trains, so Stephenson decided to constructed a bridge with two main spans of 460-feet (140m) long rectangular iron tubes, each weighing 1,500 tons, supported by masonry piers, the centre one of which was built on the Britannia Rock.

Two additional spans of 230-feet (70m) length completed the bridge making a 1,511-feet (461m) long continuous girder. The trains were to run inside the tubes. Up until then the longest wrought iron span had been 31 feet 6 inches (9.6 m).

When first conceived, the tubular bridge was to have been suspended from cables strung through the openings at the tops of the towers. However, after engineering calculations and tests of the finished tubes it was decided that they were strong enough by themselves to carry the weight of the trains.

The bridge was decorated by four large lions sculpted in limestone by John Thomas, two at either end. These were immortalised in the following Welsh rhyme by the bard John Evans (1826–1888):

Four fat lions
Without any hair
Two on this side
And two over there
Pedwar llew tew
Heb ddim blew
Dau ‘ochr yma
A dau ‘ochr drew

Continue reading

Map of the week – The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company

The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, HMS Warrior and London’s only lighthouse

The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company Limited (1837-1912) was a shipyard and iron works straddling the mouth of Bow Creek at its confluence with the River Thames. Its main activity was shipbuilding, but it also diversified into civil engineering, marine engines, cranes, electrical engineering and the auto industry.

thames-iron-works

lighthouseThe company produced ironwork for Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge over the Tamar in the 1850s, and notably the world’s first all-iron warship, HMS Warrior, designed and built for the Royal Navy as a response to the first iron-clad warship, the French Gloire. The tender to build the new iron-cased frigate was awarded to the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company and after 35 months she was launched on 29 December 1860, although not without difficulty. As a result of the coldest winter for 50 years, Warrior was found to have frozen to the slipway and six tugs were required to haul her into the river.

Trinity Buoy Wharf, by the confluence of the River Thames and Bow Creek, is also the site of London’s only lighthouse, although the lighthouse no longer functions. Designed in 1864-6 by James Douglass for Trinity House, it was used for lighting trials for Trinity House’s lights around England & Wales and for training prospective lighthouse keepers. Michael Faraday also carried out a number of experiments there. Sometimes known as Faraday’s Lighthouse it is more commonly known as Bow Creek Lighthouse.

Cassini downloadable maps – Site Centred

Whatever your interest in the past our historical maps are invaluable works of reference.

Ideal for reasearch, or print and frame for a personalised decorative map centred on the location of your choice.

Find downloadable maps of your area at Cassini Maps!

Map of the week – Stratford 1894 (Olympic Stadium)

and the crowd goes wild at the Bone Works end!

Olympics5

Map of the week – Stratford 1894  OS County Series 1:10,000

For those lucky enough to have a ticket to the Olympic stadium you may find yourselves sitting in what could be called the ‘Bone Works’ end.
It is common practice for the stands of modern stadia to be named after features and locations in the local environment. By looking at this County Series map from 1894, two years before the first modern games were held in Athens, you can see how the history of the landscape could influence the naming of the present day stadium.
So, if you hear people mentioning the Knobshill stand overlooking the one hundred metres track, the Distillery stand opposite or even the Tallow Works end, you’ll know that, for some, Stratford’s past lives on.  Find maps of your area.