Britannia Bridge Stone Lions

December 2, 2016
Tim Coysh

Campaigners are calling for 12 feet high lions “hidden” under the Britannia Bridge to be raised up to welcome visitors to Anglesey.

Four fat lions

Without any hair

Two on this side

And two over there.

John Evans penned this rhyme to the four large stone lions sculpted by John Thomas of Gloucestershire in 1848, and placed, two at each entrance to the tubular Britannia bridge, making four in total.

Britannia Bridge was built by Robert Stephenson, the son of George Stephenson, the famous locomotive engineer. The stone for this bridge was quarried at Penmon. The tubes weighing in at an enormous 1500 tons were fabricated beside the Menai Straits. Anglesey was at last connected to the rest of the country by rail.

The four limestone lion sculptures, each being 25 feet long and weighing 80 tonnes, have been there since the bridge across the Menai Strait first opened in 1850. The bridge had to be taken out of service after a serious fire caused accidentally by two boys in 1970. It was decided that a road bridge, the A55, would be added above and to account for the additional weight strain that this would impose the engineers added arches to the structure of the bridge, which are now the main support.

Since the new road deck was added in 1980, the lions are now hidden below, and out of view of the passing cars, although train passengers may still catch a quick glimpse as they pass.

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