01 October 2012

Scottish Bridges: 53. Loups Bridge

Loups Bridge is another of John Justice Jr's structures. We'd been to his other bridges at Crathie, Kirkton of Glenisla, and Haugh of Drimmie, and Loups Bridge completes the set: the only other Justice bridge known to survive.

Loups Bridge spans the River North Esk not far from Edzell. I guess it is named for the waterfall which cuts through a rocky channel just below it, "loups" referring to a salmon leap.

The bridge is on private land, and I'm not clear whether normal Scottish rights of access to walk across the land apply, as it is in the grounds of a partially residential building. The Happy Pontist had obtained permission from the landowner to visit the bridge on this occasion.

The bridge has two spans, supported by a masonry pier at its centre. The RCAHMS website lists the spans as 9m and 10m, but also states 15m and 17.4m, while Ruddock's paper lists two equal 36 foot spans. I don't know which is right.

The bridge is Listed Grade B, and seems of considerable historic importance as a rare example of the Justice family's work, and also as one of the earliest surviving stayed bridges in the UK. Its exact date of construction is unknown. It may possibly pre-date the stayed footbridge at Kirkton of Glenisla, which was built in 1824, or the Haugh of Drimmie bridge from 1823.

Unlike the other Justice bridges that we visited, Loups Bridge is derelict. Very little of it remains, and it would be foolhardy to try and walk across it. It is more than a ghost of a bridge, but only barely so.

From what can be seen, it's clear that the bridge's skeleton must have been exceptionally slender even by the standards of other Justice spans. The stay rods and cross-members are tiny in cross-section, and the odd arched pylons above the pier are not made out of anything more substantial. There are two wire-like stringers which must once have been below a timber deck, and I would guess there were once longitudinal edge members providing tension ties to the inclined stays. Most of what now remains would once have formed the wire-fence balustrades.

It would make for a very interesting restoration project, but I suspect this bridge is well past the point where it can be repaired.

Further information:


crisb said...

The history of Fettercairn states:

The suspension footbridge called the "Loups Brig," still further up the river, was erected by Lord Adam Gordon.


I dont know how reliable this all is, but the adjacent Burns House is noted as being built in 1791 and Lord Adam Gordon is noted as dying in 1801.

This could be a red herring but it's just possible this bridge is older than anyone has imagined. Possibly someone else can find out more? It feels like there is more to be discovered.

There was a postcard of the bridge in 1910 on Ebay just in case that adds any information.


Bill.S said...

Any view on the "salmon" half way up the pier in Loups4.jpg? It can be sort-of seen in Loups1 too. Someone's been up there to tie the saltire. Unless it's all accidentally blown plastic bags!

The Happy Pontist said...

I can't add much to those comments. The salmon half way up the pier is an artwork, probably by somebody attending Burns House. I understand that the flags were placed by someone who crossed the bridge.