Llandeilo Past and Present

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Llandilo Bridge
by E. Jervoise (1936)

Landilo Bridge, over the Towy, which has one segmental arch, bears the date 1848. It was described by G. Eyre Evans as "probably the finest one-arch bridge in Wales" and, according to him, the building of the bridge cost £22,000 as against the estimate of £6,000.

Rees (c. 1819) described the earlier bridge as "a substantial stone one of modern erection, but built with shameful disregard to public convenience. Owing to miserable parsimony it has been made so narrow that a carriage cannot be passed upon it, either on foot or on horse back without some danger."

According to the diary of Thomas Jenkins, of Llandilo-fawr, published in vol. viii. of the Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquaries Society and Field Club, the foundation stone of the present bridge was laid on December 3 1844, and each of the forty workmen received 4 lb. of beef, 1 pint of ale, and half an oz. of tobacco.

On October 22nd, 1846, during a very high flood, "part of the centre was carried off," together with five men. All of them, however, were saved. "Two were taken out immediately, one got up by a rope over the parapet of the old bridge, and two were carried by the river on some of the timbers to Kilsane, where they got out much exhausted."

Ogilby's route did not touch Llandilo, but he showed several roads leading there. In Bowen's Britannia Depicta or Ogilby Improv'd, published early in the eighteenth century, there is a note stating that "Llandilovaux stands on rising ground upon the River Towy, over which it has a handsome stone Bridge."

At the end of the eighteenth century there was evidently only a ferry, for which the charges were a half penny per person or per horse-load. According to Lambarde, there had been a stone bridge at Llandilo in 1577.

Ogilby's route kept to the right bank of the river Towy, crossing the Afon Myddyfi (called by him the Dulas) by a wooden bridge at the place now called Pont Rhiw-yr-adar. He showed this as "Rue Raddor," and the name was printed in the same size of type as "Carmarthen," so was presumably of more importance than at the present time. Paterson, in his Road Book of 1784, printed it in italics, denoting it as a "post town or stage." The Afon Dulas actually flows a few miles further to the west, and Ogilby's road crossed it by a "Wood Bridge." All the existing bridges over this river are, however, quite modern. Until the end of the eighteenth century there were no bridges over the Towy between Llandilo and Carmarthen.

[From: The Ancient Bridges of Wales and Western England , by E. Jervoise, A. M Inst. C. E., written on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, 1936, The Architectural Press, pages 74-75.]

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