Britain's Greatest Bridges

The Britannia Bridge

Series 1 - Episode 4 The Britannia Bridge

Wed 7 Oct 10pm - 11pm 5SELECT


Robert Stephenson’s Britannia Bridge across the Menai Strait no longer looks the way it did when it was built in 1850. While the cathedral-sized supporting towers remain, the wrought-iron and box-girder construction that connected them was largely destroyed after a devastating fire in 1970.

However, as Rob Bell explains, the cellular tube design was an ingenious piece of engineering that allowed tall ships to pass beneath it and heavy goods trains to travel over it safely. But if poring over rivets and girders doesn’t thrill you, the vivid way eyewitnesses tell the story of that terrible inferno should keep you enthralled.


Engineer Rob Bell offers an insight into the history, design and building process of the Britannia Bridge, across the Menai Strait between the island of Anglesey and the mainland of Wales. The difficult task of building the 100ft iron structure was taken up by civil engineer Robert Stephenson and his team, including William Fairbairn and Eaton Hodgkinson. But in May 1970, four youths set light to the famous bridge, and Rob meets a fireman who fought the blaze that fateful night.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Rob Bell
Director Matt Ainsworth
Executive Producer James Hayes
Executive Producer Andra Heritage
Producer Matt Ainsworth
Series Producer Ed Booth
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