Menai Bridge

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For the bridges across the Menai Strait, see Menai Suspension Bridge and Britannia Bridge.
Menai Bridge
Welsh: Porthaethwy
Menai bridge mist November 2004.jpg
A view of Menai Bridge
Menai Bridge is located in Anglesey
Menai Bridge
Menai Bridge
 Menai Bridge shown within Anglesey
Population 3,376 
OS grid reference SH555725
Community Menai Bridge
Principal area Isle of Anglesey
Ceremonial county Gwynedd
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LL59
Dialling code 01248
Police North Wales
Fire North Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Ynys Môn
List of places

Coordinates: 53°14′N 4°10′W / 53.23°N 4.16°W / 53.23; -4.16

Menai Bridge (Welsh: Porthaethwy; usually referred to colloquially as Y Borth) is a small town and community on the Isle of Anglesey in north Wales. It overlooks the Menai Strait and lies by the Menai Suspension Bridge, built in 1826 by Thomas Telford. It is the fifth largest settlement on the island, with a population of 3,376,[1] and occupies the area of the former parish of Llandysilio, whose former church continues in use as a mortuary chapel (see below).

There is a range of buildings including the old court house, a number of old pubs and the buildings associated with the wood-yard now converted to housing. There are many small islands near the town, including Church Island. The Menai Heritage Centre celebrates the two world famous bridges, the Menai Suspension Bridge - built by Thomas Telford and the Britannia Bridge - built by Robert Stephenson.


The town has existed as Porthaethwy for many centuries and it still has a house in current use which dates from the 17th century. This name derives from Porth (harbour) + Daethwy (the name of a local Celtic tribe and later of a local medieval commote) It is likely that a community has existed at the location of Menai Bridge since Roman times simply because this is the shortest crossing of the Menai Strait.

In the 9th century St Tysilio lived here as a hermit (see Church Island below).

There has been a ferry across the Menai here for centuries: it is first recorded in 1292. When the bridge opened in 1826, "the age of the ferry came to a close, but the connections of the town with the sea remained, with import, export and shipbuilding trades."

On 12 November 1918 Air Marshal Sir Thomas Elmhirst flew airship SSZ73 under the Menai Bridge following the armistice at the end of World War I[citation needed]. The most important ship business in the 19th century was that of the Davies family from Treborth.


At the eastern edge of the town is Cwm Cadnant Dingle which is now by-passed by a modern bridge constructed in the 1970s. The Afon Cadnant drains into the Menai Strait at this point and this small estuary provides a natural haven for small boats crossing from the mainland. This was the location of the landing stage for the Bishops of Bangor who had their residence at Glyn Garth on Anglesey but whose cathedral was in Bangor on the mainland.

There are a number of small islands in the Menai Strait some of which are connected to the town by causeways, including Ynys Faelog, Ynys Gaint, Ynys Castell and Ynys y Bîg east of the suspension bridge and Church Island (Ynys Tysilio in Welsh) west of the bridge. The Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path passes along the waterfront.

Menai Bridge has several churches and chapels including an English and a Welsh Presbyterian church, and a Catholic church. The town also has a primary school, Ysgol y Borth, and a large bilingual comprehensive school, Ysgol David Hughes.

Menai Bridge is home to the School of Ocean Sciences, part of Bangor University. Their research ship, the Prince Madog, is based at the pier when not at sea.[2]

Attractions in Menai Bridge include the 14th-century Church of St Tysilio, St George's Pier, a butterfly house – Pili Palas, and the Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens, a 200 acre (80 hectare) estate originally developed as a picturesque garden in the 1800s, now[when?] undergoing restoration.

The town has a brass band.

TV location[edit]

Welsh-language production company, Rondo, has converted a disused garage into a fake row of shops in the centre of Menai Bridge as a film set for a soap opera, Rownd a Rownd, shown on the Welsh-language channel S4C. They also film the show in schools in the town, Ysgol y Borth, and around the town itself.


The large car park to the north of the High Street is the "fair field". This is a piece of common land set aside for the holding of an annual fair, which is called Ffair Borth — a tradition dating back to 1691. It started as a horse fair, and livestock trading was carried out until the 1970s. It was also a hiring fair. It was one of the year's great occasions for the folk of Anglesey and Arfon. The fair now features traditional fair rides. It comes to Menai Bridge on 24 October every year, unless it falls on a Sunday, in which case it is held on either 23 or 25 October. The fair stalls also take over most of the roads and streets in the town, making passage through the town very difficult.

A traditional verse goes:

'Mae Ffair y Borth yn nesu,
Caf deisen wedi ei chrasu,
A chwrw poeth o flaen y tân,
A geneth lân i'w charu.'

(Hen Benillion, edited by T. H. Parry-Williams, no. 218)

"The Porthaethwy fair is getting near,
The cake is out of the oven,
In front of the fire is warm beer,
And a fair maid for loving."

Glyn Garth[edit]

Menai Bridge addresses include the linear development along Beaumaris Road, an area known as Glyn Garth. This was a favoured location for holiday houses for the wealthy from the Manchester and Liverpool areas in the late 19th century, and many large houses of that period remain. This was also where the Bishop of Bangor had his palace.[3] The palace was demolished in the early 1960s and replaced by a block of flats, Glyn Garth Court, completed in 1966.


External links[edit]