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Celebration for 200 year old bridge


Local people will celebrate the bi-centenary of Chepstow Bridge this month with a special procession.

Since an act of 1547 Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire have both been charged with maintaining the bridge at Chepstow.

Both counties have done so since that time, including the current five arch iron bridge, known locally as the Old Wye Bridge, which opened in 1816.

Crossing the River Wye between the Forest of Dean in England and Chepstow in Wales the now grade 1 listed bridge is the largest iron arch bridge in the world surviving from the first 50 years of iron construction between 1780 and 1830.

Last year Gloucestershire County Council and Monmouthshire County Council shared the £712,000 bill for essential repairs and repainting to bring the bridge into good condition for its 200th birthday.

At 1pm on Sunday 24th July a special procession will take place over the bridge.

This will be a re-enactment of the original procession which took place on the same day in 1816, then led by the magistrates of both counties who commissioned the bridge.

This year's procession will be led by the county councils, the modern day equivalents of magistrates, which are now responsible for local highways and bridges.

Cllr Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways at Gloucestershire County Council said, "When the bridge was built in 1816 it replaced a 10 arch wooden bridge which had been there for 500 years, and as you can imagine, it had needed constant repair.

"Once complete, it became the second largest iron arch road bridge in the world, so it was a very bold initiative for its time.

"Last year we helped to fund structural repairs and a repaint. It now looks fantastic for its 200th birthday and I hope it'll be used for another two hundred years and beyond."

Cllr Bryan Jones, cabinet member for highways at Monmouthshire County Council said, "The bridge is a Grade 1 listed landmark and extremely important to world history and heritage. The repair works carried out last year were essential to ensure the continuing use of the bridge, for hopefully years to come, and particularly with the bi-centennial celebrations planned for this year."

The event takes place as part of Chepstow Festival which includes a fair on the riverbank throughout the day and a fire work display in the evening.

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