A CHEPSTOW resident has said the town’s iconic bridge should be considered for World Heritage Status ahead of its 200th anniversary celebrations.

John Burrows, a member of the Chepstow Marketing group, told Monmouthshire’s councillors that Chepstow Bridge, also known as the Old Wye Bridge, is of ‘world significance’ and asked them for their support in applying for the status.

In his presentation during the public forum of Thursday’s full council meeting at its headquarters near Usk, Mr Burrows highlighted the importance of the historic bridge ahead of the commemorations which are due to be held on July 24 next year.

Mr Burrows said Monmouthshire has lots of places of interest, including the burial mound at Portskewett, the Roman walls at Caerwent, Chepstow Castle and Tintern Abbey.

He said: “One of them is this bridge which is 200 years old next year.

Mr Burrows, who is co-ordinating the anniversary celebrations, said that the bridge was built in the most critical decade (1810 and 1820) of the last 2000 years when the progress made with bridges was phenomenal.

“Just before the bridge we have today, a famous engineer John Rennie put forward a proposal for a single arch,” he said. “Had it been built in 1812 it would have been the largest arch ever built in history. However the county council of the day did not have the money to build this bridge and got John Urpeth Rastrick to build a beautiful bridge.”

The Grade I-listed bridge was designed and its construction overseen by the steam locomotive pioneer and built by Hazledean, Rastrick and Co of Bridgenorth.

It was Grade I-listed in 1975 and underwent major structural repairs in 1979.

“The bridge is the finest Georgian Regency arch bridge in Britain and the world,” Mr Burrows added.

“There is no other five arch bridge anywhere like it.”

Mr Burrows showed a poster for the original opening ceremony and explained that the procession over the bridge will be re-enacted by The Chepstow Festival and invited councillors to take part.

He referred to the Iron Bridge in Shropshire which has World Heritage Status.

“It was the first use of iron in structural engineering that started the first 50 years of iron and steel in construction,” he added.

“Whilst Iron Bridge is the oldest, Chepstow is the largest. We have the largest iron arch bridge from the first 50 years of iron building in the world built before 1830.”

Mr Burrows said that of the top ten largest bridges built using iron at that time, those in London, Paris and Berlin have been demolished.

The bridge is currently undergoing restoration work and is surrounded by scaffolding. Mr Burrows said it is vital that the work is completed by the end of the year to allow for the first celebrations to take place in the New Year.

“The first event is the meeting of the Mari Lwyd and Morris Dancers who will meet on the middle of the bridge in January,” he said.

“The celebrations will raise awareness and the profile of the bridge around the world.”

“I think we should consider applying for World Heritage Status. It does not matter if it does not make it, it will help to celebrate the bridge and raise its profile,” he added.