Cleddau Bridge

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Cleddau Bridge
Cleddau bridge1.jpg
Carries A477 traffic, pedestrians and bicycles
Crosses River Cleddau
Locale Pembrokeshire, West Wales
Maintained by Pembrokeshire County Council
Design Box girder
Total length 0.51 miles (0.82km)
Opened 20 March 1975
Toll 75p (Cars & vans)
£1.50 (Heavy vehicles)
Daily traffic 10,905

The Cleddau Bridge (Welsh: Pont Cleddau) is a toll bridge on the A477 road that spans the River Cleddau between Neyland and Pembroke Dock, Wales. It was originally called the Milford Haven Bridge. Due to errors in the box girder design it collapsed during construction in 1970 and did not become operational until 1975.

Toll booths are located on the Pembroke Dock side of the bridge. As of December 2014 the toll is £0.75 for cars & vans and £1.50 for buses and lorries over 2 tonnes; cycles and pedestrians are free of charge.[1][2]

The bridge is operated by Pembrokeshire County Council. Despite the income from the tolls there is an excess in spending of about £600,000 per year, which has led to calls for the bridge to be adopted by the Welsh Assembly and for the tolls to be scrapped.[2]


Prior to the bridge, the river Cleddau divided Pembrokeshire into two halves. The towns of Pembroke Dock on the south side and Neyland on the north side were less than 1 mile (1.6 km) apart across the water but a 28 miles (45 km) journey was required to travel between them via road. Between 1858 and 1950 the Admiralty permitted operation of steam ferries between the two towns. From 1950 to 1975, the County Council operated a ferry service, with capacity for 24 vehicles and 250 pedestrians.[3] A decision was taken in the 1960s to replace the ferry service with a bridge. Two bridges would be built, the main Cleddau Bridge covering the Cleddau river and smaller bridge to cross the Westfield Pill creek. Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners and Freeman Fox and Partners (now part of Hyder Consulting) were appointed as joint consulting engineers and the contract to build the bridge was awarded to A.E. Farr Limited in September 1968 for £2.1 million.

Cleddau King ferry in 1971.

The bridge was expected to be completed by March 1971, however on 2 June 1970 a 70 m (230 ft) cantilever being used to put one of the 150-ton sections into position collapsed on the Pembroke Dock-side of the estuary. Four workers died and five were injured. Construction was halted until October 1972. The Merrison Committee of Inquiry into the Design and Erection of Steel Box Girder Bridges concluded that the cause of the collapse was the inadequacy of the design of a pier support diaphragm (a diaphragm of half the designed thickness was used),[4] but considered "the failure of site organisation between the parties as of more general significance".[5] The committee believed that the only relevant Code of Practice relating to the design of steel bridges in the UK was inadequate for applications such as the Cleddau Bridge, and they implemented Interim Design and Workmanship Rules.[6] These rules lay the groundwork for a new British Standard covering box girder bridge design.[7] As of 2007, the collapse during construction is regarded as the last major bridge disaster in the UK.[8]

Construction was eventually finished, at a final cost of £11.83 million, and the bridge opened to traffic on 20 March 1975. £7 million of the overspend was attributed to design changes made due to the Merrison Committee's recommendations. This was covered by a £3 million out-of-court settlement between the County Council and the consulting engineers and a £4 million interest-free loan from the Government that was repayable over 40 years.[9] 885,900 crossing were made during the bridge's first year in operation.[10]


Bridge tolls
Year Cars & vans Heavy vehicles
1975 30p 60p
1979 35p 70p
1985 50p £1.00
1993 75p £1.50

The bridge is funded by tolls which are collected on the Pembroke Dock side of the bridge from traffic travelling in both directions. The toll rates have been in place since 1993 and As of December 2014, are 35p for motorcycles, 75p for cars and £1.50 for heavy vehicles; pedestrians and cyclists are free of charge. Car drivers may also buy books of 20 or 50 bridge tickets which reduces the cost to 60p per crossing. The toll booths only accept cash or the pre-purchased tickets. Toll booths with barriers were introduced in September 2004 to reduce the number of people driving off without paying.[11]


The county council may close the bridge depending on wind speed, wind direction and the weather forecast. Vehicles taller than 1.9 m (6 ft 3 in), bicycles and motorcycles are usually not permitted to cross the bridge when wind speeds exceed 50 mph (80 km/h). The bridge is closed to all vehicles and pedestrians should wind speeds exceed 70 mph (110 km/h). The council began recording the time the bridge was closed for in 2002 and as of 2006, the bridge was closed to high-sided vehicles for 238 hours and closed to all vehicles for approximately 36 hours.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cleddau Bridge Toll". Pembrokeshire County Council. 
  2. ^ a b "Petition call to end bridge tolls". BBC News Online. 7 June 2007. 
  3. ^ The History of Pembroke Dock: River and Irish Ferries
  4. ^ Department of the Environment (Merrison Committee of Inquiry) (1973). Inquiry into the Basis of Design and Method of Erection of Steel Box Girder Bridges. London: HMSO. 
  5. ^ Bridle, Ron; Porter, John (2002). The Motorway Achievement: Frontiers of Knowledge and Practice. Thomas Telford Ltd. pp. 346–348. ISBN 978-0-7277-3197-5. 
  6. ^ Department of the Environment (Merrison Committee of Inquiry) (1973). "Appendix 1: Interim Design and Workmanship Rules.". Inquiry into the Basis of Design and Method of Erection of Steel Box Girder Bridges. London: HMSO. 
  7. ^ Flint, A.R. "Steel Box Girder Bridges". Institution of Structural Engineers. Archived from the original on 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  8. ^ "How safe are our bridges?". BBC News Online (British Broadcasting Corporation). 2007-08-03. Retrieved 2008-01-30. The last major bridge disaster in the UK was the collapse of Pembrokeshire's Cleddau Bridge during construction in 1970, killing four people. 
  9. ^ "Cleddau Bridge". Hansard. 1994-12-08. 
  10. ^ "Cleddau Bridge". Pembrokeshire County Council. Archived from the original on 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  11. ^ "Abuse plea over toll collectors". BBC News Online (British Broadcasting Corporation). 2004-09-03. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  12. ^ "Cleddau Bridge - get the Latest". Pembrokeshire County Council. 2007-03-09. Archived from the original on 2008-01-31. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°42′23″N 4°56′01″W / 51.706342°N 4.933719°W / 51.706342; -4.933719