WORK is to finally begin this week on vital repairs to a historic bridge in Aberdeenshire which partially collapsed due to severe winter weather five years ago.
The Huntly Castle Bridge in Huntly was once the main route out of town and crosses the River Deveron at the main entrance to the Castle Hotel.
The 17th Century bridge was left with a large gap on the North side of the arched structure in February, 2009, after a substantial section of the parapet and part of the roadway fell onto to the banks of the Deveron after severe frosts and heavy snow, followed by a rapid thaw, are believed to have weakened the bridge.
The bridge was recently re-listed as a Category A structure, following evidence which showed parts of it date to around 1600 or even earlier.
A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council today announced that work to consolidate the collapsed section of the 12 metre long bridge would begin on Wednesday. The bridge will be closed to pedestrians for twelve weeks while the work continues.
He said: “This will include work to stabilise the structure and taking down a timber walkway constructed above the collapsed section, supported on the original masonry arch. The bridge, on the north side of the castle, will reopen after phase one works for non-motorised and pedestrian traffic only. An inner modern structural wall will be constructed to allow the carriageway to be reinstated at its original level.
“Phase two will see the bridge restored to its original appearance, including matching masonry facing for the collapsed section and conservation of the other main elements of the structure, including the arch barrel and other side walls.”
Councillor Peter Argyle, the chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “The bridge is a key part of the Huntly Core Path network, a popular and scenic circular walk used regularly by members of the public and tourists.
“The bridge has a clear association with Huntly Castle, which itself is a major tourist attraction for Huntly and of national historical significance, so it is good to see this work progress for a number of important reasons.”
Robert Gray, the council’s head of Planning and Building Standards, said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this closure, but it is necessary to secure the longer term viability of this historic crossing point on the River Deveron for locals and visitors to the area.”
The first phase is the restoration scheme is being jointly funded by Aberdeenshire Council, Historic Scotland and the Castle Hotel Huntly. Funding is still being sought for phase two.