02 August 2012

Scottish Bridges: 35. Ness Islands Footbridges, Inverness

Continuing south, we crossed to the west bank of the River Ness via a series of pedestrian bridges connecting together the Ness Islands.

The first of these is called the Ness Bank Footbridge (also Island Bank Road Footbridge; it has a counterpart at the west end of the crossing called the General's Well Bridge (pictured above and below right).

The two structures were built in 1988 as replacements for a pair of historic James Dredge structures. One of the Dredge structures was salvaged and rebuilt nearby in a park - I'll cover it in the next post. I believe the new bridges were designed by the Dinardo Partnership.

Bridges were first erected here in 1829, reportedly so that the islands could be "laid out in graceful and varied walks ... [to] form a lasting ornament to the town, a powerful attraction to strangers, and a source of healthful recreation and enjoyment to the inhabitants". These remain sound reasons to build a footbridge today!

The first bridges collapsed twenty years later, and were replaced by Dredge's two spans in 1853-4. The Ness Bank structure spanned 25.3m, and the General's Well bridge spanned 29.6m. They were, so far as I know, two of only three Dredge bridges in Scotland, the third being the well-preserved Bridge of Oich.

Photos of the two Dredge bridges can be found at the RCAHMS website in the links given below: they are really quite marvellous examples of an idiosyncratic engineering mind at work.

The modern structures are, sadly, no match for their forebears.

The simple tubular steel portals that form the towers are the least attractive feature, but not the only problem. The finials for the towers are a feeble effort compared to those on the historic bridges elsewhere in Inverness. The connection between the approach gradient and the main bridge span on the Ness Bank span (pictured right) is also regrettably kinked rather than continuously curved.

The best that can be said about both bridges is that they are functional.

Further information:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are records of other Dredge bridges in Scotland. Baloch Ferry Bridge from 1841, 46' span and demopished in 1887. Another Victoria Bridge near Fort William built 1849,250' span and one of the longest, demolished 1946 and Blantyre Bridge on the Clyde from 1852 demolished 1949.