"NEWBRIDGE, an extensive and populous village in the parishes of LLANWONNO, EGLWYSILAN, and LAN TWIT-VAIRDRE, partly in the hundred of CAERPHILLY but principally in the hundred of MISKIN, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, on the turnpike road from Cardiff to Merthyr-Tydvil, 12 miles (S. by E.) from Merthyr-Tydvil. The population is returned with the respective parishes.
It is situated on both banks of the river Taf, which here receives the Rhondda, and derives its name from the celebrated bridge called Pont y Prydd over the Taf : there are also three other bridges connecting the different parishes. Its sudden rise and progressive increase and importance are entirely owing to the mineral treasures of the neighbourhood, and to its favourable situation on the line of the Glamorganshire canal, midway between Merthyr-Tydvil and the sea at Cardiff. It has for some time been distinguished for a chain cable manufactory, belonging to the firm of Messrs. Brown, Lenox, and Co., of London where, among many other large works, the suspension bridges across the Thames at Hammersmith and across the Usk and the Tweed, together with the Brighton chain pier, were made: the works usually afford employment to about one hundred persons. In that part of the village which is within the parish of Lantwit-Vairdre works have recently been completed, by Messrs. Biddulph and Co., for the manufacture of patent wrought iron railway plates ; and, a little lower down the river, Mr. Crawshay of Merthyr is now erecting numerous cottages for the workmen, prior to the establishment of tin-mills.
The entire length of the village is not less than a mile ; and it is in contemplation to have a market at the southern extremity, as well as the northern, for the convenience of the workmen. Pont y Prydd, otherwise called the New bridge, over the river Taf, forms a beautiful and picturesque object from the various points at which it is visible; but, owing to the steepness of its ascent, it is somewhat inconvenient to travellers on horseback, and is almost impassable for vehicles heavily laden, which ford the stream, when practicable. It consists of one arch, one hundred and forty feet in the chord, and thirty-five feet in height above the level of the river at low water, forming the section of a circle of one hundred and seventy-five feet in diameter, which, at the time of its erection, was considered the largest stone arch in the world. At each extremity are three cylindrical holes, gradually diminishing in size as they approach the summit, introduced to relieve the arch from the extreme pressure arising from its abutments ; the diameter of the lowest is nine feet, that of the middle six, and that of the uppermost four. The architect was Mr. William Edwards, a native of the parish of Eglwysilan, and a self-taught genius, whose talents procured for him great distinction as a bridge-builder : he first began the work, in 1746, by constructing a light and elegant bridge of three arches, which, in the course of about two years and a half after the period of its completion, was swept away by a flood of extraordinary magnitude, the mountain torrents having torn up by the roots several large trees, which, forming a dam as they floated along by the middle piers of the new bridge, caused a vast accumulation of the waters ; and these, ultimately bursting through their barrier with irresistible force, carried away the entire structure. Bound by the terms of the contract to maintain the stability of the bridge for seven years, Edwards conceived the design of surmounting the difficulty by a structnre of one arch, of the then unexampled width of one hundred and forty feet, from pier to pier, which he completed in 1751, having only to add the parapets ; but, owing to the keystone of the arch being unable to resist the pressure of the abutments, the whole gave way and fell into the river. The luckless architect was thus driven a second time to the resources of his own fertile genius, to prevent the recurrence of so unpropitions an event : adhering to his latter plan of a single arch, he contrived an ingenious method for diminishing the enormous weight which had previously forced the key stone out of its place, by constructing the cylindrical holes in the present bridge, already described, which enabled him to complete this curious and much admired edifice.
There are several places of worship for Dissenters, noticed in the parishes in which they are respectively situated.
A branch of Mrs. Aldworth's school for female children, natives of the parish of Eglwysilan, has been established at Newbridge.
Here was a curious rocking-stone, which, however, has been much injured of late; it stands near the turnpike road."