|The Severn Bridges Visitor
Please note that the visitor centre is currently closed.
The Severn Bridges Visitor Centre situated at the end of Shaft Road, off Green Lane, Severn Beach, near the east end of the Second Severn Crossing was opened in 1998 and is run by the Severn Bridges Trust.
There are video films about the building of the new bridge as well as models and illustrations of bridges and the history of the area. There are marvelous views of both bridges from the Binn Wall.
The exhibition takes you on a journey of how man has crossed the Severn Estuary from the iron age to the present day. Originally early man relied on the river to keep his enemies on the other side and as the river was very shallow he could easily cross using tree trunks and stones. The Romans crossed the river by using fords and early bridges were washed away time and again. Many bridges were built during the 13th Century and records show that even then a toll had to be paid to cross. However the great floods of 1795 destroyed most of the Severn bridges. The Industrial Revolution gave the bridge builders of the time the chance to build iron bridges across the river.
Try the educational model and experience for yourself the dynamics of building the Severn Suspension Bridge. Discover the amazing facts and figures of how tall the towers are how thick the cables and the process of erecting them across the estuary and how the aerodynamic deck was floated into place. Eventually due to increased traffic and heavy use the bridge needed repairing. The towers were strengthened and the deck repaired.
A new crossing was decided upon and several studies led to the construction of the Second Severn Crossing. The bridge was built from 1992 to 1996 and carries the motorway M4 between Wales and England. The educational model shows how the viaduct and cable-stayed bridge was built and shows the essential differences between the first and second crossings. The bridge is not far from the line of the Severn tunnel, built from 1874 to 1886 and is quite close to the ferry crossing that was used by the Romans.
The exhibition explores the challenges regarding the environment as well as the maintenance of the bridge and the amazing innovations in technology for the future.