The Bridge of the Blessed Ford


A village steeped in history and tradition

Page 3


Edward Richard [19] wrote two historic songs about the Rhydfendigaid bridge. His first was written towards the end of 1759 when the bridge was being built [20]. At the time, he was full of anticipation and optimism and he was looking forward to something rather special — a fine, well-designed bridge worthy of crossing a ‘blessed ford’. He was also sure that it would bring with it material wealth and make the village tros fyth yn gyfoethog (prosper and flourish over time) :

Gwna’r pentre’ mwyn serchog, tros fyth yn gyfoethog.

An old photo with the inscription St John’ College, Ystradmeurig, an institution founded and endowed by Edward Richard in the eiighteenth century.

A year later, however, he saw things very differently ; he was totally disillusioned and his second song reflected his bitter disappointment – neither the design nor the execution pleased him [21].  The bridge was woefully narrow, humpbacked and, all in all, a big ‘bwbach erchyll’ (a big hideous monstrosity) :

Mae’n fingul, mae’n fongam, mae’n wargul, mae’n ŵyrgam,

Mae llwybr di-adlam anhylam yn hon,

Ni welwyd un ellyll, na bwbach mor erchyll,

Erioed yn traws sefyll tros afon.


These songs were first printed in 1803 in a publication entitled Yr Eos, comprising all Edward Richard’s poetic work [22]. There were several, later editions ; the second release or version contained a note testifying that the bridge was still standing in 1811 and that it was, as Edward Richard had described – a pretty coarse and clumsy building [23] :

. . . continues to stand, with some occasional repairs, to this day (1811), yet it must be confessed that it is a coarse and clumsy piece of building

Around this time (1811),  J.G. Wood passed through Rhydfendigaid and drew a pencil sketch of the bridge [24 which seems to be at odds with the above description.

Two historical records of the same bridge?

Just a casual look at Wood’s drawing (adjacent, right) suggests that what is standing today is much the same as what he saw in 1811. Admittedly, the present bridge is narrow and humpbacked, but it would have been more than adequate for mid 18th century traffic.

The difference between what Wood saw (and sketched) and what Edward Richard wrote is difficult to explain. These two versions are poles apart, and either Edward Richard is guilty of gross exaggeration or the postscript in Yr Eos (above) is incorrect. For a possible explanation, turn to page 4.




For the life of Edward Richard see Edward Richard of Ystrad Meurig by D.G. Osborne Jones, Carmarthen, 1934


T. Williams, Ceredigion, Volume XV, Number 2, page 1.


Edward Richard’s poetic works were printed in 1803, 1811, 1813, 1851, 1856  and in Cyfres y Fil, 1912.


Yr Eos: sef gwaith prydyddawl Mr Edward Richard o Ystrad-meurig yn Sir Aberteifi, London, 1811, p. 70.


Ibid pp. 69-73.


J.G.Woods, Principal Rivers in Wales, London, 1813, p 145.

A village steeped in history and tradition