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Apprentices launch shipping heritage sculpture

Three Mabey Bridge apprentices have produced a stunning landmark to celebrate Chepstow’s long and rich engineering heritage.

A sculpture depicting 16 shipyard workers holding aloft a silhouette of the S.S. Rovigo, which launched from the site of the current Mabey Bridge factory in Chepstow in 1883, will form the centrepiece of the town’s new Severn Quay development.

Mabey Bridge produces structures such as bridges and wind turbine towers weighing hundreds of tonnes, the £30,000 sculpture weighs a mere five tonnes and will be painted and installed on completion of the development.

Apprentices James Evans, 23, Conor Thomas, 18, and Mathew Jackson, 18, carried out all the fabrication, welding and finishing on the six metre long sculpture, while more experienced colleagues took responsibility for CAD modelling, cutting and plate preparation.

The ship S.S. Rovigo was built by the Finch company of Chepstow for the Masters Stephen and Mawson of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It sailed for ten years before hitting rocks in Lisbon’s Guadiana River.

Peter Lloyd, Managing Director of Mabey Bridge, said: “We have been at the forefront of manufacturing and engineering in Chepstow from the very beginning and the company has evolved over the years to meet changing requirements.

“It is symbolic that the S.S. Rovigo was built on the same site as one of our current facilities, however it is also worth bearing in mind that engineering work had been taking place on this site for 34 years – since Brunel built the first railway bridge over the Wye – when the ship launched in 1883.”

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