A VISIONARY scheme to open a 200 year old bridge for the first time in 30 years is back on track.
The chain bridge, between Llantysilio and Llangollen, is hoped to be re-opened to the public by end of the summer after more vital grants have been secured.
In July 2013, Llangollen Town Council and Llantysilio Community Council, owners of the bridge, received £350,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to bring the bridge back to life.
But plans ran into difficulties with the initial tenders and more money was sought from HLF, Denbighshire County Council and now CADW to successfully get a contracter for the construction works.
Llangollen town clerk Gareth Thomas said: “The project will make a significant contribution to the economy of the area and the role it will play in enhancing the tourism offer in the locality.
“The expanded access opportunities and the linkages between two historic forms of public transport will bring economic benefits to the both the Llangollen and Llantysilio area, particularly to the cafe at Berwyn Halt Station, the Chain Bridge Hotel, the horse drawn barges and the Llangollen Steam Railway but also to the wider area.”
The original tender was issued in November 2013 but offers were above the budget of £301,000. New offers of funding are dependent on the receipt of the new tenders expected back by June 13. If a tender comes in within the revised budget work is likely to be commissioned at the end of July.
Plans may also include work on the footpath through use of volunteer labour.
Llangollen mayor Bob Lube said: “We did run into difficulties last year after receiving the HLF grant. The site it is on is very complicated and makes the whole process very difficult.
“Once it is open it will be tremendous for the town. It will open the route between Llangollen Canal and Berwyn Halt railway. It will certainly help businesses in the area and people of Llangollen.”
Llantysilio community council clerk, Sandra Baker, who is working closely with Llangollen Town Council, is hopeful the bridge will be open by end of the year.
The bridge was originally built in 1817 to open a new trading route and rebuilt in 1928 in the style of a suspension bridge.
The chain bridge fell into disrepair and closed in the 1980s and the two councils bought the bridge from its previous owner, businesswoman Stephanie Booth, in 2007.
CADW has invited the councils to submit a grant application after Clwyd South AM Ken Skates contacted culture minister John Griffiths.
Mr Skates said: “The restoration and future reopening of our iconic chain bridge is one of a number of exciting projects I am delighted to support which will help breathe new life into Llangollen and herald a new era for the town.
“The chain bridge is not deemed an ancient monument or a listed building of national importance and, as such, wouldn’t normally be eligible for grant aid from CADW. However, given the bridge’s proximity to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site, the council was encouraged to apply for funding.”