Visited by: Stewart Marchant, 26/04/2007 Present Condition: replaced by fixed bridge
The bridge was opened by the Duke of Clarence on 17th September 1890 (Date confirmed from commemorative plaque by Robert Treharne-Jones . There is no reference in the Council Minutes, when the opening ceremony was being planned, to the bridge being a swing bridge, but http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/GLA/Cardiff lists in its catalogue an illustration "Grangetown, Clarence Swing Bridge under construction, 1889, V-33."
http://www.cardiffians.co.uk/timeline states "The Clarence Road Bridge in Grangetown was opened by the Duke of Clarence on Sept. 17th, which replaced a wooden toll swing bridge..."
However, the only map that I have found so far that pre-dates 1889 is the 1885 OS map and that does not show a bridge across the Taff at the point where the Clarence bridge was built, in fact the map does not even show Clarence Road!
I believe that it actually replaced a wooden toll swing bridge that had existed for many years about half a mile south of the Clarence Bridge site. I have the old bridge listed on the drop down menu as 'Grangetown Bridge'.
The www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/GLA.Cardiff listing in its catalogue of illustrations "Grangetown, Clarence Swing Bridge under construction, 1889, V-33." refers to the publication 'Cardiff Yesterday', published between 1980 and 2000 - 'V-33' being the volume number.
The old postcard above shows that Clarence Bridge originally carried a tram track. Colin Hardy tells me that in the 20th Century the bridge carried Nos. 6 and 9 trolley bus routes, and that the cables had therefore to be disconnected before the bridge could be swung.
All the images that I have found so far of Clarence Bridge were taken from the road at the end of the bridge. I have been unable to find an image taken from up or downstream that would offer more information. Old OS maps do show 'Dolphins' sited in midstream above and below the bridge. While Dolphins are constructed in navigable waterways to protect bridge piers, these are sited some way from the bridge which could suggest that they were positioned to protect the exposed ends of the deck when swung open.