This was once a very fine suspension footbridge in the classic style (as can be seen in an old photo), with similarities to the two Abernethy spans covered in the previous two posts. This one was designed by Blaikie Bros and built in 1885, and always lacked one significant design feature present in the Abernethy structures: stiffening deck trusses.
There are not many suspension footbridges left in the
without such stiffening. John Hume’s classic paper on Scottish suspension
bridges included a gazetteer of every such bridge known to the author, right up
to and including the UK .
He identified a total of 14 unstiffened suspension footbridges in Scotland. I think the only one I’ve previously walked upon in Forth
Road Bridge is the Sapper’s Bridge at
The stiffening truss normally also doubles as the bridge’s parapet, and as well as rendering the vertical deflection of the bridge less disconcerting for its users, it also helps to evenly distribute loads amongst the hangers and reduces the likelihood of damage to the structure.
A contemporary drawing of the bridge included in Civil Engineering Heritage shows the bridge as having two layers of suspension cables, one passing from the top of the tower to the top of the parapet at midspan, and a second passing from mid-way up the tower to the deck at midspan. Both cables are still present, and this is a very unusual feature of this bridge, one I can't immediately recall seeing anywhere else.
I don’t know whether the
bridge became derelict because of damage caused by the bridge’s users, or
because the footpath became redundant leading to no maintenance, or a
combination of the two. Today, it is a bridge to nowhere, for nobody. Gates
discourage anyone from setting foot on the ruinous main span, but it’s
straightforward to clamber around and stand on the tattered remnants of the
deck. I wouldn’t recommend it, though, and the thought of falling onto scraps
of rusty metal ought to deter most people from going anywhere near it. Abergeldie Castle
Having degraded to its current parlous and perilous state, I’m unsure whether the bridge is in a process of gradual decline, or has reached a point of temporary if precarious stability. It is a protected
, but is on the Buildings at Risk Register. I imagine there’s no continuing need for it to be refurbished
and can’t believe the cost of doing so could be justified. I’d be astonished if
the deck is still there in ten year’s time, so if, like me, you have a soft
spot for derelict bridges, I suggest you visit it while you still can. Listed Building
- Google maps / Bing maps
- British Listed Buildings
- Scottish Highland Bridges
- Aberdeenshire SMR
- Scottish Suspension Bridges (Hume, Scottish Archaeological Forum Vol. 7, 1977)
- Highland Bridges (Nelson, 1990)
- Civil Engineering Heritage: Scotland Highlands and Islands (Paxton and Shipway, 2007)