the directory for all there is to do in Conwy, North Wales

A brief overview of Conwy’s Historical Attractions

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle is the main feature of the walled town of Conwy, a landmark visible from the surrounding countryside; it is also a popular tourist destination. The castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and managed by Cadw.

Origins

Conwy Castle was built between 1283 and 1289 by King Edward I to replace Deganwy Castle, which was destroyed by Llywelyn the Last in 1263. Conwy Castle’s design and construction were managed and overseen by Jacques de Saint-Georges d'Espéranche (James of Saint George) master mason. The castle was built using 1,500 laborers with the materials composing of Limestone and Sandstone. The project cost an estimate of 15,000 (that’s about £8,900,000 today). The Castle was built on top of a rock promontory, this was to prevent undermining (a method in which the enemy would dig a tunnel under the construct, and causes it to collapse, taking the construct with it) and it also projected a visible statement.

Architecture

 The Original entrance to the castle was up a stepped ramp (a little part of this remains and can still be seen today) across a drawbridge, and then through a portcullis gateway, and into the Barbican (fortified outpost/gateway), which led in the outer ward (this would’ve contained the garrison and the prison tower).
At the back of the fortress, another Barbican guarded the postern entrance from the Conwy River. The Castle was designed and built with both an inner, and an outer ward. Both wards had four towers over 21 metres tall, 9.1 metres in diameter, containing several floors.
The Inner ward was cut off from the rest of the castle by about 15 feet thick wall with arrow slits. A lethal chokepoint was formed here because of a deep rock gully and an indirect gateway, the reason for this extra defence was that the Great hall, and the King’s royal apartments were located inside the inner ward.

Historical Events

* Six years after construction, the castle was besieged during the rebellion of Madog ap Llywelyn, this siege lasted a few months, and for a time supplies ran very low, but the castle and town were not captured.
* Richard II made his way to Conwy Castle after returning from Ireland to discuss the surrender of his crown.
* In 1403 the castle was captured by the welsh forces of Rhys and Gwilym, sons of Tudur ap Gronw it’s soldiers and the fortress were later ransomed back to the king.
* But then by the 17th century the Castle was mostly unused, until the English Civil war, when it was garrisoned for King Charles I. it was later besieged by the parliamentary army, and left as an empty shell.


The Bridges

The Castle is situated next to the River Conwy which has three Bridges running across it.

Thomas Telford’s Suspension Bridge
 
Thomas Telford’s Suspension Bridge was completed in 1826, and was one of the first road suspension bridges in the world; the bridge replaced the ferry, which before the construction of the bridge was the only way of crossing the river. Telford built the Bridge’s supporting towers to match the castle’s turrets with a stone-brick style. The Bridge is actually built into the rock in which the castle stands upon. And is very close to the castle and part of the castle was even had to be demolished so the bridge’s cables could be put into place upon the rock. The bridge is actually quite small (spanning only 2½ metres in width)


Robert Stephenson’s wrought iron tubular bridge


Robert Stephenson’s Railway Bridge was completed in 1848 and officially opened in 1849. This was the first tubular bridge to be built, and thus the design first went through a large prototype stage to make sure that the bridge would be supported. Through the success of this bridge Robert Stephenson went on to build the Britannia Railway Bridge over the Menai strait which was a lot larger than Conwy’s. The current bridge has been reinforced with more pillars under the water; otherwise the bridge is unmodified since it was built. Since the Britannia Bridge was burned down during a fire, therefore to this day the Conwy Railway Bridge remains to be Robert’s only existing work.

Today

Today, Road traffic crosses the river via the Modern Conwy Bridge located adjacent to the Conwy suspension bridge, and the Conwy Tunnel, which is immersed under the Conwy River. However, the Railway Bridge is still used today between Llandudno Junction and the town of Conwy, and the Suspension Bridge is still accessible on foot for a small fee.




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