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Bradshaw’s Guide

Conway Castle entrance. Taken between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. Original: Library of Congress



The ancient, town of Conway is within the wall that were erected at the same time as the castle, and which are ornamented with circular, towers. Although not a manufacturing town, it has always been a place of some importance.

The vale through which the river Conway flows, is remarkable for its beauty and fertility. Its luxuriant pastures, corn fields, and groves, are finely contrasted with the bleak appearance of the Snowdon mountain, which towers in frowning majesty above it.

Conway Castle, which belongs to the Marquis of Hertford, stands on a rock which rises considerably above the river. It was built in 1284, by King Edward I., to check the frequent revolts of the Welsh. The walls are of enormous thickness, and defended by eight massive round towers. The great hall of the castle measures 130 feet in length. The King’s Chamber, as it is called, occupying one of the circular towers contiguous to the river, has a very pretty Gothic window, which seems to be the only part of the castle where any degree of ornament has been attempted. Richard II., when he fled from Ireland, in 1339, took refuge in this castle, where he agreed with the Earl of Northumberland and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to resign the crown to the Duke of Lancaster. From this circumstance arose the civil wars which desolated the country for so long a period. In St. Mary’s church is a carved black font, screen, stained glass window, and tomb of Nicholas Hookes, whose father had 41 children, and his wife brought him 27.

The most favourable view of the castle and bridge is obtained a few hundred yards higher up the river, on the same side. Here it is seen boldly projecting in the foreground, with the beautiful new suspension bridge attached. Part of the town appears on the left, while the mouth of the river, open to the sea, forms the distance, which, with the vessels of various descriptions gliding on the surface, forms one of the most charming pictures that the imagination can conceive. There are several very attractive places in the neighbourhood of Conway, and a traveller may spend several days very pleasantly here in making excursions to the various places in the vicinity, viz., to the ruins of Gannock Castle, the walks of Gloddaeth, &c., &c.

The iron Tubular Bridge, erected in 1848 by Stephenson, over the Conway, is one of the most unique examples of engineering skill ever imagined or carried into execution. Though inferior in length and weight to the Britannia Bridge, yet being built on precisely the same principles, and raised to its destined site by the same power, it may, from the circumstance of its having been the first erected, be deemed an original idea, beautifully carried out to its fullest extent in its mighty contemporary. The tabular viaduct over the Conway consists of two tubes, placed in juxta-position, one for the up, and the other for the down trains, each of them measuring 400 feet in length, and weighing 1300 tons. Its section is nearly rectangular, with a slight arch at the top to prevent the accumulation of rain. Its walls are formed of a series of iron plates, composed entirely of hard wrought iron, varying from half an inch to an inch in thickness; the greater strength being in the middle.

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