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Movable Bridges in the British Isles
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inner to outer harbour - Barry Docks
This bridge is on private property and is not accessible to the public
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Address: Barry
County: Glamorgan
Country: Wales
OS Grid Ref: ST125673
Type: Retractable
Built: 1889
Construction: iron
Power: Hydraulic
Use: Road/Rail
Customer: Barry docks and Railway Company
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The retractable Bridge still in place across the lock chamber between docks 1 & 3, to right of image
The retractable Bridge still in place across the lock chamber between docks 1 & 3, to right of image
Build Information:
Technical Information: Bridge was retracted by hawsers drawn back through a 4:1 reduction pulley system, the remains of which are still roughly in place.
Visited by: Steve Williams; Stewart Marchant, Dec 1999; 24/04/2007
Present Condition: Laid aside
General notes:
I am grateful to staff of ABP Ltd for granting me access.

Barry Docks were built to relieve congestion - and to compete with - Cardiff Docks. The sole export was coal, which was brought to the docks by railway.

There are fascinating descriptions of the docks and their history on the following websites: http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast/sites/barry/pages/barrydocks.shtml

http://www.barrywales.co.uk/tomclemett/disappearing3.asp

Since visiting Barry Docks and studying my collection of old postcards I have now realised that there were actually 2 retractable bridges in Barry Docks, as well as the swing bridge over junction cut. The bridge that I have photographed laid aside on the docks spanned the lock chamber between Dock 3 and Dock 1, the other retractable bridge spanned the lock chamber that gave access direct from the entrance channel to Dock 1.

Since when I visited the docks I was not aware of this second retractable I made no attempt to go and photograph the location.

Old OS maps show that these bridges carried a rail track. This track also had to carried across the entrance of the graving dock to the west of dock 3 and the entrance lock to dock 1.

Alan Hawker - who grew up in Barry - has a photogaph taken around 1984 of the rolling bridges in use. Alan recalls that although the docks were much busier then than now they were generally open to the public who used the dock bridges as a short cut to and from Barry Island. The shortest route was to cross the retractable bridge in No. Dock 2. If that was retracted the next shortest route was across the swing bridge over the Cut. If that was also swung open for a vessel pedestrians had to walk right round the edge of the docks.

Alan also recalls that the bridges and other dock equipment were powered hydraulically, and that the docks were dotted with pump houses.

My thanks to Alan for the excellent aerial photograph taken in 1995 showing the docks still fully functioning.

Acknowledgements :   Alan Hawker; Steve Williams at www.barrywales.co.uk 
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Database ref number: 663