Walk from the shopping centre along narrow side-streets, following the shoreline under the world’s first large iron suspension bridge towards Church Island for views – over the whirlpools of the Menai Strait – to Robert Stephenson’s rail bridge.
Return along a woodland path that leads to a former schoolroom, where a heritage display (open seasonally) tells the story of the two bridges.
Menai Bridge’s two impressive bridges provide Anglesey’s physical links with the mainland. Telford’s Menai Suspension Bridge opened in 1826. The Suspension Bridge is an International Civil Engineering Landmark, designed by the Scottish engineer Thomas Telford (1757-1834).
The world’s first iron suspension bridge, it is 1,265ft/305m long with a central span of 579ft/177m with its roadway set 98ft/30m above the water to allow tall ships to sail beneath. The Britannia Bridge (Pont Britannia) opened in 1850 and is a magnificent prototype of box-girder design by William Fairbairn and Robert Stephenson. The link between London and Holyhead, the port for Dublin, was thus completed: the first vehicle to go across – 100ft above the waterline – was the London to Holyhead mail coach, whilst tall ships made their passage beneath.
Originally built to carry rail traffic, this bridge was converted to a double-decked structure following a catastrophic fire in 1970. It now carries both rail and road traffic.
A short walk from Menai Bridge town centre brings the visitor to the base of the Menai Suspension Bridge from where the true scale of this remarkable structure is best appreciated.
The Belgian Promenade (built by Flemish refugees from the Great War between 1914-1916) leads south west reaching a causeway that links Church Island and the ancient Church of St Tysilio to the shore.
A short walk around the church cemetery affords wonderful views of the Menai Strait, both bridges and Ynys Gorad Goch Island – whose residents once made a living from the fish caught at the traps built there.
Close up views of the Britannia Bridge can be had from the car park of the picturesque St Mary’s Church. There is also a monument to Nelson on the shore of the Strait, a short stroll away.
Menai Bridge has a selection of interesting shops including antiques, books and ironmongers as well as the Tegfryn Art Gallery and hosts two races in the annual Menai Strait Joint Regatta.