Gattonside Suspension Bridge, Melrose
Impressive early suspension bridge over the river Tweed.
Period of construction:
1800 - 1849
Transport Trust plaque:
Abbey Street, Melrose, TD6 9PX
The bridge is of the Samuel Brown chain type (see entry for Union Chain Bridge). It was built in 1826, probably by J.S. Brown, engineer, and Redpath, Brown and Company, contractors. It has castellated masonry pylons, two pairs of iron link chains on each side, iron rod suspenders to the wooden deck, and iron railings. Its span about 91 m (300 ft).
It crosses the River Tweed and gives access to the village of Gattonside on the north of the river. The bridge was opened formally on 26th October 1826. There was also a ford river crossing just down stream for horse drawn vehicles. The paving of the ford was broken only in the 20th century when sewage pipes were laid to Gattonside.
Several conditions were placed upon the use of the bridge, including the constraint that no more than eight people should be on the bridge at one time. It was also a statutory offence to make the bridge swing. Notices are still displayed at either end notifying those crossing of the various restrictions. The bridge underwent major repairs in 1991 when the chains and footway were removed and repaired and the 'swing' was eliminated.
The house at the end of the bridge was at one time the toll house and was built at the same time as the bridge. Before the wooden porch was built, the door faced directly along the bridge and the toll man could see if anyone was crossing or how many people were on the bridge. Since payment had to be made to cross the bridge, the ford continued to be used for many years. There was a box of stilts at each end of the ford for people to use when crossing the river and even as late as 1929 the refuse cart made frequent ford crossings to and from Gattonside.
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Open at all times.
How To Find:
By road: A track off Abbey Street links the B 6361 in Melrose to the B 6360 in Gattonside on the north bank by the foot crossing over the River Tweed.
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