M6924.1 | The Britannia and Conway Tubular Bridges
The Britannia and Conway Tubular Bridges
1850, 19th century
56 x 37.8 cm
Gift of Mrs. Phillip Mackenzie
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Album page (2) , Architecture (8646) , bridge (558)
Keys to History
This album is devoted to the first two tubular bridges, the Britannia and the Conway.
In 1854 Robert Stephenson, together with William Fairbairn, was working on designs for two tubular bridges to be built in Wales for the Chester and Holyhead Railway. Because of a disagreement Fairbairn left the partnership to develop his own form of tubular bridge, while Stephenson remained to produce what soon became known as "the Stephenson Tubular System." The two structures, the Britannia Bridge and the Conway Bridge over the Menai Straits, were the first built in the tubular form and, according to Stephenson, the Britannia was "the first for carrying railways over spans never before deemed practicable." Both bridges attracted a great deal of attention and were greatly admired by the public and engineers alike.