‘Put up signs before bridge is destroyed’

By Ariane Brumwell in Community News

TALGARTH residents are calling for new signs to be installed to protect an ancient bridge in the village.

Despite its peaceful location, Penbont Bridge has seen four incidents recently in which large vehicles have become jammed on the bridge and in some cases caused sections of it to become dislodged.

Alva Corbett, who has lived with her husband Jeremy in their home just yards away from the bridge for 40 years, said: “The problem is large vehicles are trying to get over the bridge.

“It’s an ancient road and the original southern road out of Talgarth leading up to Abergavenny, and it needs to be preserved as such. There are other ways of getting through the village that don’t require people using the bridge.”

While the current signs do warn that it is unsuitable for HGVs and wide vehicles, their small size and the lack of detail causes some drivers to ignore them, while others do not notice the signs at all.

The vehicles that have got stuck on the bridge in recent weeks are a skip lorry, a tractor with a machine on the back, a heavy vehicle dealing with generators at the Mid Wales Hospital and an oil truck.

It’s not just the historical bridge which is at danger from vehicles getting stuck, there are also exposed water pipes running alongside the bridge that could be at risk.

Jeremy said: “It seems to be getting worse. The fence outside our house has been demolished twice in the last 10 years.”

“We’re worried because there’s the exposed waterline above the river next to the bridge. If they knock that hard enough, we’re worried it will break the pipe affecting the water supply to the whole of Talgarth.”

Also in danger is the house on the other side of the bridge belonging to Andrew Morgan.

Because of the angle of the narrow bridge, any attempts by vehicles to manoeuvre themselves off the bridge could lead them straight into the exterior walls of the house he has owned for 12 years.

Andrew said: “The thing is the house alignment. If they’re jammed and they have to reverse by following the line of the bridge, it goes straight into our house.

“The road was closed for three hours before when a lorry was jammed because we were trying to get it off the bridge without it damaging the house.”

The ex-toll bridge, which was the main road to Abergavenny before the A479 was built, is not listed as an obstacle on satnav systems, which has led many drivers to use it after they have taken a wrong turn earlier on in their journey.

Despite the current warning signs, many drivers of bigger vehicles are tempted to drive over the bridge because the steep rise leading up to it and the angle it is at fools them into believing they can fit through even when they cannot.