Harlech Castle, Wales

Structural Engineer: Mott MacDonald / David Dexter Associates
Principal Contractor: R.L.Davies

Harlech Castle Footbridge

After being unused for more than 600 years and entrance to Harlech Castle previously occupied by the original drawbridge is now once again the access point to the castle via the new 46m. long footbridge. Until the installation of the footbridge visitors to the castle had to use a series of wooden stairs which meant that disabled access was restricted. Welsh contractor R.L.Davies secured the contract to turn the existing Castle Hotel adjacent to the site into a new visitors centre with the new footbridge being an additional item to their scope of supply. The contractor was keen to find someone who take on the new footbridge construction on a design and build basis whilst effectively providing a one stop shop solution. After a successful tender submission SH Structures secured the contract to supply and install the bridge. Tenders were based on an outline design intent produced by Mott MacDonald however we had to develop this into something that was structurally robust, aesthetically pleasing and within budget. Working closely with our appointed consultants David Dexter Associates the scheme was gradually developed to meet all the required criteria. The finished structure provides safe access to the castle forming a seamless link from the new visitors centre.

The curved structure is based upon an underslung vierendeel truss that tapers between supports. The bridge features a hardwood timber deck with a bespoke balustrade system with a lightweight mesh infill and a hardwood handrail. Lighting is provided in the form of LED units within the balustrades which a programmable so that the colour can be changed from the normal white light to a selected colour for special events and occasions. The installation phase proved to be a little challenging as the access to the site via the narrow streets around the castle were not ideal for accommodating heavy goods vehicles. Careful selection of the crane type and bridge assembly delivery sizes overcame these issues so installation could proceed. Opened in the summer of 2015 the new visitors centre and footbridge have received a lot of praise from visitors. The public are particularly enjoying the way the bridge deck width increases as it approaches the castle providing a viewing space where users can fully appreciate the stunning back drop of the peaks of the Snowdonia National Park.