Bank our bridges

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AROUND 20 years ago I worked for Sustrans as its Scottish engineer, and during that time I ­attempted to run a bridge bank, initially incensed by the violation of the two Dredge design footbridges in Inverness.

They had delivered a river crossing there since 1842, and were still functioning as intended when, rather than draw on the available engineering skills that could have subtly upgraded them, they were torn down. One was incorporated into a cod-reassembly in a nearby park. The other seems to have been scrapped – or spirited away.

This fired up the concept of a bridge bank, but one with minimal resources. We got a couple of good “wins”. The spans that linked the flats on St Andrews Drive in Glasgow were being removed, and were picked up for around £600 apiece. With their ends remodelled, and the whole spans cleaned up and repainted, we got three useful spans for about half the price of new ones.

However, we lost the opportunity to secure some amazingly long cast-iron beams from a bridge in Buckie.

There are today some wonderful bridges, which lie neglected and unused but could be better preserved and seen if relocated.

So please – don’t cut up that fascinating structure – salvage it, store it – as we did with the Sustrans bridge bank, alongside a cycle route, and even consider how it might even be used as more than one span, by reworking the detail.

Dave Holladay

Woodlands Terrace