Retired Section Swansea Docks


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Wooden double bascule railway bridge and road swing bridge over the New Cut.

Toll House 1849

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Midland Railway Drawbridge, top end of

New Cut, Swansea

               When the bridge was open to shipping as in the above photo (c.1900), it rested on two pairs of rollers, one pair on the riverside abutment and another pair on the central wooden pier. The abutment rollers were higher than the central pier rollers so that, in this open position, the bridge platform rested at a slight angle to be clear of the fixed railway track leading to the river’s edge.

 The bridge was operated by horizontal hydraulic rams mounted on a separate platform below bridge level, between the abutment and the central pier. To allow for the passage of rail traffic, the bridge would be run out to its full length, at which point it would be balanced on the central rollers only, and with the nose slightly down. Then a small hydraulic ram on the receiving pier would raise the nose of the bridge and bolt it securely in place.

 Before opening the bridge again to shipping, the hydraulic ram would release the bolts and allow the nose of the bridge to drop, thereby raising the opposite end so that it could be drawn back clear of the fixed railway line on the abutment side of the river.


Sailing ships in the New Cut in 1860.  The Midland Railway Drawbridge can be seen in the background.

Scherzer Bridge For years the link between the ICI Morfa Works and Upper Bank.

The swing bridge over the New Cut built in 1897 before the introduction of the trams.

Pictured opposite is the stone plinth which stands on the older of the two road bridges that cross the River Tawe today. At the top of the plinth is the original Swansea Harbour Trust plaque which was recovered from the 1897 swingbridge when it was demolished in the 1960's. The panel below explains that the 1897 bridge was the fourth to span the river at this point – the previous three being the original road swingbridge built in 1847, the double-bascule rail bridge constructed c.1851, and the road/rail drawbridge erected in 1867.


North Dock entrance draw bridge ( also known asWeavers Bridge ),  almost at the end of construction in 1903. The view is looking towards the Town. The gantries are in place ready to carry the overhead lines for the trams.

View looking east

View looking west

North Dock Draw Bridge

The drawbridge across the entrance to the North Dock also carried overhead wires to power the trams which ran between the town centre and Port Tennant. There were four gantries carrying the overhead lines – two being mounted on the bridge itself, and two wider gantries being mounted on either side of the bridge. As the bridge was being raised on its hydraulic rams prior to being rolled back, the bridge-mounted gantries were lifted clear of the shore-based gantries and the electrical supply to the wires on the bridge was disconnected. Then, as the bridge was rolled back, the bridge-mounted gantries travelled above the overhead lines running between the town and the bridge. This system allowed the overhead wires on the bridge, and those on either side of the bridge, to remain under tension at all times. As can be seen from the photo, the connection devices on the gantries were quite substantial. 

Car followed by a tram crossing the bridge.

Tram on way to the town centre.

The road bridge and above the high level rail bridge.


Buttresses for the high level rail bridge still standing

The road bridge has been lifted ready to roll back to the town side.

The bridge opening, note the three guide arms to locate the bridge in the closed position.

Two ships entering the North Dock waiting for the road bridge to open to shipping.

ss Cognac entering the North Dock from the locks in 1920.
The high level draw bridge can be seen in the open position.

North Dock in the early 1900s

People waiting on the town side of the bridge for the ships to pass through.

People waiting on the Port Tennant side for the road bridge to close.

Traffic waiting to cross the bridge to the Port Tennant side.

View from the high level rail bridge looking towards Port Tennant in 1926.

View from the high level rail bridge looking towards the town in 1926.

Weavers in the early 1950s

The abutments that supported the high-level railway drawbridge are still standing in the River Tawe

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