|Maybe you can work out what's
going on...maybe you remember
The lorry nearest to us seems to be reversing back, but what's the
figure on the back of the lorry on the middle of the bridge doing?
This photo was taken before the footbridge was built in 1974. Walking
across the bridge on the pavement was a risky business.
The lattice fence of course has gone now. This was probably not
its first siting. It is likely that it was used on Newport's first
stone bridge. This is not the only part of Caerleon Bridge which
seems to have found its way from Newport. The foundation stone
embedded in a wall of Caerleon's bridge reads:
"This bridge was erected at the expense of the County
by David Edwards and his two sons William and Thomas. Completed
"MDCCC" is of course 1800. There is a problem with
this date, when Archdeacon Coxe visited Caerleon in that year
he observed that the bridge was a wooden one.
Caerleon still had the wooden bridge in 1803, when a surveyor
named Mr Gething reported that, even if repaired, the bridge was
unlikely to last more than three or four years. Plans for a new
stone bridge were eventually drawn up in 1805 and the bridge constructed
sometime between then and 1810. Clearly the foundation stone on
Caerleon Bridge belongs elsewhere. Indeed, we know that it was
set into the bridge during repairs in 1956. For some time before
that it had been lying in front of Caerleon's Legionary Museum.
Well, if it is not Caerleon Bridge's foundation stone where is
it from? The answer is, probably, Newport. Archdeacon Coxe gives
us a strong clue. When he visited Newport in 1800 the first stone
bridge was in the process of being built - and what's more he
included a print of it IN ITS UNFINISHED STATE in his book "An
Historical Tour.." And yes, a check with the records shows
that Newport bridge was built by David Edwards (son of the builder
of the celebrated one-arch bridge at Pontypridd) in 1800 at a
cost of £10165.
Did the foundation stone find its way to Caerleon at the same
time as the fence when Newport's first stone bridge was demolished
to make way for the new bridge? Maybe we'll never know. Little
mysteries like this make life interesting.
If you haven't noticed the stone in question, take a look next
time you cross the bridge (by vehicle). It's in the wall, the
Hanbury side, at the bridge's highest point.