Students at Ysgol y Traeth, Barmouth, were visited recently by engineers from Network Rail and representatives from contractors Alun Griffiths and Penny’s Group for a school assembly on the ongoing restoration of the iconic Barmouth viaduct.
The visit was an opportunity for students to learn about the complexities of the £30m project and ask questions of the teams that are carrying it out.
On the day, the school was presented with a model replica of the original viaduct, crafted by a worker from Penny’s Group using a section of the old viaduct’s steelwork. The headteacher of Ysgol y Traeth, Sian Humphreys, accepted the gift on behalf of the school.
Throughout the visit, the students proved to be enthusiastic and inquisitive, posing numerous questions that showcased their curiosity and eagerness to learn. The visit was a testament to the power of education, community engagement, and the significance of preserving the past while forging a brighter future.
Gareth Yates, Network Rail project manager, said: “We were very happy to support the visit to Ysgol y Traeth and talk with the students about the restoration of such an iconic local landmark.
“The students were enthusiastic and keen to learn more, and we hope that they were inspired by hearing from the engineers. It’s important to us to meet with the communities we work in and highlight the social value of the railway, so it was fantastic to be able to make the most of this opportunity to share our knowledge and experience with the engineers of tomorrow.”
Mike Stevens, senior demolition estimator at Penny’s Group, commented: “During our time working on this project we soon became aware that the bridge was an iconic landmark and the reconstruction of the metallic structure was generating immense interest within the community.
“We were constantly being asked by members of the community if they could have a piece of the old bridge as a souvenir. Pennys thought it would be an ideal opportunity to cut a replica out of the old bridge edge beam and with the help of Daniel Cartwright the harbour master, present it to the local primary school as a souvenir.
“We were always welcomed in the community whilst on site and it was a pleasure to be able to visit the school and give back to them part of the history of Barmouth. “
Sian Humphreys, Headteacher of Ysgol y Traeth, added: “As a school, we are extremely grateful to receive a very special gift, a piece of history for us to treasure here at Ysgol y Traeth.
“The heritage of our town is important to us and something we celebrate regularly at the school. The piece of the old bridge will receive special attention here as we will display it and make use of it in our lessons.”
The restoration is progressing well with the teams now in the final stages of installing the new bridge components. This has included moving two new 160-tonne metallic spans into place on the viaduct and removing the existing metal elements using pontoons to take them across the water and away from the structure. The railway is on track to be reopen on the weekend of 2-3 December.
Image credit: Network Rail