The Robert Stephenson Trust promotes the greatest engineer of the nineteenth century with the aim of making today's generation aware of his work and humanity to insire a new generation of engineers through his achievements.

These pages give news of the Stephensons, their associates, works and activities.
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A short biography of Robert Stephenson can be seen here

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

The Britannia Bridge fire


DISASTER struck over the Menai Strait on May 23 1970 when a group of teenagers accidentally set the Britannia Bridge alight.


They were carrying a piece of burning paper as a lamp and when the lit paper was dropped inside the bridge, the wood and tar inside the tubular structure caught fire. Strong wind and the tubular shape helped the fire spread along the bridge. The fire continued to burn for nine hours.


 One of the youths later said they had been invited to a party by a girl but when the group got to the house they found her parents had gone out and locked it.

 Instead of the party they decided to go down to the "tube" for a walk and after climbing a stile went into the structure for about 10 yards. He told reporters in 1972: "We had never been there before and just wanted to see what it was like. We couldn't see much just hear a noise from the girders. "There was a page of a book on the floor and I had my lighter. I lit the paper and threw it behind one of the girders.”  The burning paper set light to tar on the wooden sleepers on the track. As the roof was wood the fire quickly spread, from the mainland side of the bridge towards Anglesey, aided by strong winds.


Fire crews from Bangor were first on the scene after the alarm was raised at 9.43pm and found the entrance tower well alight, with fire already spreading rapidly over the roof of the first span.  A former Bangor fire fighter said later the tube was “like a long chimney on its side with a massive draw”. More appliances were requested and 11 appliances and more than 60 fire fighters fought the blaze but they were hampered by the wind and the inaccessible spot with low water pressure from hydrants. The tar covering the tubes melted and began falling from the bridge, setting light to trees and undergrowth below.

 The glow of the blaze could be seen from as far away as Holyhead and Llandudno and burnt fiercely for nine hours before firefighters succeeded in bringing it under control.


But Robert Stephenson's bridge, which had stood for 120 years, was virtually destroyed, severing Anglesey's rail link with the mainland. An official report into the fire fighting operation revealed low water pressure hindered the firemen’s work.


 Frank Hitchinson, the chief officer of Caernarvonshire ((CORR)) Fire Brigade, said there was no water hydrant near the bridge and the nearest water supply was the Menai Strait  about 450 yards away and down gradients of one in three. He said later the lack of a water hydrant was known to both fire services and British Railways (BR).


 The Secretary of State for Wales – the Rt Hon George Thomas MP visited the scene to inspect the fire damage the following day and congratulated the fireman of both brigades ”for the brave and courageous manner in which they fought and tackled the fire”, and endeavoured to save this vital communications link between the mainland and the county of Anglesey.


With traffic increasing, there are discussions concerning upgrading the Britannia Bridge once again.There has been no decision so far, so perhaps three bridges will cross the Menai Strait in future.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Britannia Bridge 

Claims that so-called urban explorers are trespassing on a landmark bridge to take photos have led to a strong warning by transport police.

Internet pictures have been posted taken from Britannia Bridge linking Anglesey with the north Wales mainland.

Urban explorers examine areas which are normally unseen or off-limits, such as empty factories, abandoned shipyards and tunnels.

British Transport Police called it "illegal and extremely dangerous".

The two-tier structure carries trains and vehicles, and some photographs have been taken under the bridge and show maintenance walkways, columns and the railway.

A BTP spokesman said: "BTP officers are investigating possible trespass offences after being made aware of photographs which appear to have been taken from Britannia Bridge in north Wales and which have appeared online.

"Inquiries are ongoing to establish the identity of the person, or persons, responsible for taking the photographs and to establish whether any offences have taken place.

"Trespassing on any part of the railway is illegal and extremely dangerous."

BTP said parts of Britannia Bridge were restricted areas and could only be accessed by trained railway staff and contractors because of the dangers.

The spokesman added: "Signs warning people not to trespass on railway property are in place for your safety - not for your inconvenience - and they must be adhered to."

The bridge was badly damaged by fire in 1970. It reopened to rail traffic in 1972, and the road was opened in 1980.

BTP said they were not aware of people trespassing on other prominent sites in Wales to take photographs.

Anyone with information about those responsible for taking the photographs is asked to contact the British Transport Police on 0800 405040.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Alexander McKenzie Ross (25 December 1805 - 8 August 1862) was a British builder and engineer.

Funerary monument, Brompton  cemetery, London

Together with Robert Stephenson, son of the builder of the Rocket locomotive, he designed the famous Victoria Bridge at Montreal, Quebec, the first bridge to span the St. Lawrence River. The bridge, opened in 1859, remains in use to this day, carrying both road and rail traffic.
Ross was chief engineer for Canada's Grand Trunk Railway, including the Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence River. He had been the former resident engineer on the Chester and Holyhead Railway, also working with Stephenson. They had worked on numerous challenging projects in the UK, together with Francis Thompson.
Ross died in Chiswick and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.


Posted By Robert. Stephenson

This is a video presented by Prof. H. J. McQueen on the construction of the Victoria Bridge.


Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Engineers have started major strengthening work on the Britannia Bridge which spans the Menai Strait. The £4m project which commenced on Monday 10 January is a joint effort by Network Rail, the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK Highway Agency and is contracted to Birse Rail Ltd.


Britannia Bridge spanning the Menai Strait


Work on the 160 year old bridge which now carries road and rail traffic between Anglesey and Mainland Wales includes repairs to brickwork and masonry, drainage, inspection and replacement of eroded steelwork and removal of invasive plants. The steel portals on the approaches to the bridge will also be repainted.




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