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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 February, 2004, 13:56 GMT
Suspension bridge saved
Elan bridge - Powys Digital History Project
The Elan bridge has not been used since 1988
A 100-year-old suspension bridge that provides access to a remote mid Wales village will not be taken down after its owners decided it was too historically important.

The Elan Village suspension bridge crosses the river Elan about 0.5 km downstream of Caban Coch dam.

It was built by the Birmingham Water Corporation to provide access to the worker's village during the construction of the reservoir complex in the late 19th Century.

But the bridge has been closed to vehicles and pedestrians since 1988 because it was deemed too dangerous to use.

The historical significance of this bridge has long been recognised and we will continue to work with all parties to ensure a viable future for this river crossing
Welsh Water

Since then, a temporary bridge built alongside it has maintained access to the 20 or so houses at Elan village.

And now Powys Council has adopted the bailey bridge as a public highway which means that all public rights over the suspension bridge will be removed.

Bridge guarded

But the suspension bridge's owners, Welsh Water, do not intend to take down the 100-year-old structure.

"The historical significance of this bridge has long been recognised and we will continue to work with all parties to ensure a viable future for this river crossing," said a Welsh Water spokesman.

This year marks the centenary of the opening of the Elan dam network, near Rhayader, by King Edward VII.

The dams are seen as one of Britain's great Victorian engineering triumphs but cost the lives of more than 100 workers during their construction.

Elan bridge - Powys Digital History Project
The bridge keeper examined the contents of every cart

The anniversary of the 1904 opening of the Elan dam network in mid Wales by King Edward VII takes place in July.

Construction of the four dams and reservoirs started in 1893 and involved a total of 50,000 people.

It cost a mammoth 6m and more than 100 workers were killed during the building work.

Elan Village housed some of the thousands of navvies who helped build the dams.

The suspension bridge was guarded round the clock by a bridge keeper who carefully examined the contents of carts making deliveries to ensure no infectious diseases entered the village.

The project was carried out by Birmingham Council to provide a source of clean, safe, water for the growing population and industries of the city.

A number of celebrations are planned for the 100th anniversary of the dam's opening.

An exhibition based on the building of the reservoirs and dams will be held at the Elan Valley Visitor Centre which attracts 170,000 people a year.

The Elan Valley reservoirs send 360 million gallons of water a day along the 70-mile long pipeline to Birmingham, parts of Radnorshire and south Wales.

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