Work to repair historic engineering treasure in Leith delayed

Work to fully repair a historic bridge and unique remnant of Scotland's industrial past has been delayed.

The Victoria Swing Bridge in Leith, a Category A listed local landmark built between 1871 and 1874, is the largest counterweighted swing bridge in Scotland.

However, it has been left to fall into a visibly poor condition in recent years, and in 2020 was placed on a list of historic structures under threat.

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Forth Ports, which owns the Port of Leith estate, previously announced plans to repair the bridge, creating “a usable space for the local community”.

An image showing how the Victoria Swing Bridge could look once repairs have taken place. Picture: LDN Architects

Announcing it had secured listed building consent in November 2021, Forth Ports said a “private six-figure investment will see the bridge, which is the largest counterweighted swing bridge in Scotland, fully repaired, with a phased programme of specialist works, which will protect the character and form of the bridge”.

It said this would include fully refurbishing the northern and southern walkways, re-decking the central carriageway, repairing and repainting the metalwork, and replacing the decked turning circle areas. Forth Ports previously said refurbishing the walkways would start in 2021, with the remaining work anticipated to be undertaken last year.

A spokeswoman for Forth Ports said: “The first part of the project work on the listed Victoria Swing Bridge is complete, with both the northern and southern pedestrian walkways now fully refurbished. There has been a slight delay with the second phase of the works to refurbish the central deck area as we work through the details with our main contractor. These works are now agreed and will begin shortly.”

The bridge was designed by Alexander Rendel and opened in 1874 to provide an efficient road and railway route for the port following the completion of Albert Dock in 1869.

Historic Environment Scotland describes it as “an important and rare example” of its kind, noting: “Swing bridges present tangible evidence of the rapidly expanding industrial landscape of mid to late 19th-century Scotland, a period when maritime, canal and dockland commercial enterprises were at their height. Swing bridges are a rare building type in Scotland.”

Forth Ports previously said it was also looking to repair a second historic swing bridge nearby, which connects Dock Place and Rennie’s Isle.



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