We think of Anglesey as a spectacular island playground. Spend a day or two here and the “spectacular” and “playground” parts of that description will speak for themselves.
But people can forget that we’re an island - the largest off Wales, as it happens. That’s because we’re so easy to get to.
It wasn’t always the case. Before 1826, if you’d stood on the Welsh mainland and looked across at us, your heart would have been in your mouth.
Because the only way across the Menai Strait would have been a boat trip or a desperate dash at low tide. And this stretch of tidal water, plagued by strong currents, whirlpools and concealed rocks, was one of the most dangerous in Britain.
Then along came Thomas Telford. His Menai Suspension Bridge
joined two sections of the A5 on its epic journey from London to Holyhead. And saved a whopping nine hours into the bargain.
The world’s first large scale iron suspension bridge still takes your breath away. Slung between its limestone towers are 16 massive chains, holding up a 176-metre span. It’s tall enough for 100-feet sailing ships to pass beneath it undisturbed.
Telford must have thought he’d done a pretty good job. But just 24 years later Robert Stephenson opened his monumental Britannia Bridge
, hammering home the last of its three million rivets himself.