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'Our heritage is disappearing' - Campaigners want to save Hopkinstown's historic Smokey Bridge

Campaigners near Pontypridd want to save a historic railway footbridge from demolition.

They say the Smokey Bridge, in Hopkinstown, is a vital part of the area's industrial heritage.

The bridge has been closed to the public since 2014.

The bridge, built to help miners cross the railway line, has been closed since 2014.

Both Network Rail and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council have responsibility for the structure.

The overgrown entrance to the bridge on the opposite side of the railway line

The council proposes an 'extinguishment order' for the footpath, a major step towards proceeding with the dismantling of the bridge.

It says the bridge is in "very poor condition structurally".

The council says an alternative route is nearby

It is estimated that a £1.5m investment is required to replace the bridge, and £15,000-a-year to maintain it thereafter.

There is a suitable alternative route for pedestrians nearby, and in almost three years since its closure the Council has received just one query from a resident about its status.

Having considered its low-usage when open, the significant cost to the public purse for its replacement and upkeep, and the future potential hazard it could cause to the railway line, a decision has been made for all parties to progress an extinguishment order on the route, so Network Rail can remove the bridge.

– Rhondda Cynon Taf Council statement

Campaigners say the bridge is a rare surviving reminder of the area's coal industry.

The nearby Tymawr Colliery closed in 1983, with the site cleared and turned into a housing estate.

The footbridge photographed in the 1960s, with Tymawr Colliery visible in the background Credit: Derek Pain

The Grade-1 listed Hetty Pit winding house and headgear survives.

The miners used this bridge every day to safely cross from one side of the railway tracks to the other.

There were six mines here. The Hetty Pit winding house and the headgear and the bridge are the only things that remain to show what these brave men did.

– Chris Pick
The Hetty Pit winding house and engine has been restored by volunteers

Network Rail says it "must balance the needs of those who are keen to retain various historical assets with our responsibility to provide a safe network, with the best value for money to the taxpayer."

The deadline for people to oppose the extinguishment order is August 25.

The footbridge facing the Hetty Pit site

The campaigners now hope historic environment body Cadw will consider listing the structure.

If it's dismantled or it's removed, I'm not going to be able to bring my grandchildren up here to walk over it, it'll just be another photo, in a photographic archive.

And I find that very disappointing, because Hopkinstown is a wonderful place to grow up.

– Lyndon Francis, campaigner

Cadw confirmed to ITV Wales that it had been asked to look at listing the footbridge.

A spokesperson said it is "currently in the process of considering the request".