Behind-the-scenes photos show major north bridge refurbishment works

Behind-the-scenes photos have been released showing the progress of the £36.4m refurbishment of the city’s north bridge.

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It comes after engineers opened up and inspected sections of the bridge not seen since construction over 100 years ago. The team found significantly more deterioration on all 3 spans of the bridge, leading to more extensive repairs than first anticipated.

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Photos released today show contractors working on the historic façade, painting and restoring parapets and making improvements to the footway.

Facade removal underway

Balfour Beatty were appointed to carry out the major refurbishment works which includes repairing, grit blasting and repainting structural steelwork, restoring cast iron façades, as well as repairs to the underside of the bridge's concrete deck and the footway paving.

Further work will be carried out to improve structural drainage and access provisions for future inspection and minor maintenance. The King's Own Scottish Borderers War Memorial located on the east plinth of the bridge's south pier is also being restored.

The A-listed bridge, which was built in 1897, was identified as needing a full refurbishment in 2017 and £22.29m was allocated for the work from the city council’s capital investment programme.

But the cost of the project soared from £22 million to £36m last year when the landmark structure was found to be in worse condition than expected.

Footpath Works & Freshly Painted Parapets

Testing led to the discovery of “extensive issues” with the existing concrete bridge deck constructed in 1933.

The extra work required, including costs from Covid, added £14.13m to the bill, pushing the total cost up to £36.42m. The council has said the project is funded by its Capital Investment Programme.

Works to restore the category A-listed bridge which started in June 2018 are expected to be completed in 2023.

The current cast iron decorated steel girder North Bridge was constructed over the period 1894-97 by Sir William Arrol who constructed the Forth Rail Bridge and fabricated the steelwork for London’s Tower Bridge. It was built some 120 years after the initial masonry bridge was constructed to open up development lands north of the Waverley Valley for a New Town.

Recently Blasted Steelwork

The last major refurbishment works were undertaken in 1933 where the present concrete deck was installed and steel strengthening works were carried out. Later in the early 1990's the decorative facade was painted and new spheroidal cast iron parapets were installed.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “This is a major project to refurbish one of Edinburgh’s iconic landmarks and has involved a great deal of planning, investigation and expertise to get us to this stage. Not only is this an intricate, historic structure, but it also carries one of the key thoroughfares linking the north and south of the city, adding to the project’s complexity.

“Behind the scenes specialists are working hard to carry out essential structural repairs and restoring the bridge’s beautiful façade to its former glory, so it’s great to glimpse their efforts. Once the project is complete this striking bridge will be restored for all those who live in and visit the city to enjoy.”

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