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North Bridge
North Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
North Bridge
associated engineer
Cunningham, Blyth & Westland
date  1894 - 15th September 1897
era  Victorian  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  NT257738
ICE reference number  HEW 2472
photo  © and licensed for reuse under this
The present three-span road bridge across the Nor' Loch valley in Edinburgh is a fine early example of British steel arch construction. It soars over the roof of Waverley Railway Station and provides a north-south link in the heart of the city.
The orginal North Bridge, which the present bridge replaced, was constructed in masonry and designed by William Mylne (1734-90) to link the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh over the partially drained valley. It was about 346m long and had three stone arches, flanked on either side by three closed (vault) arches.
Lord Provost George Drummond had placed the first stone for Mylne's bridge in 1763, though work did not commence until 1765. It opened for pedestrians in 1769 but partly collapsed shortly afterwards, killing five people — the vault arches were too low and a lot of fill was required above them to bring the structure to road level. On John Smeaton’s (1724-92) advice, the weight of the bridge was reduced by substantial internal cavitation, and it was completed in 1772 at a cost of £17,354. This bridge was widened in 1876 and dismantled in 1896-7 to make way for the new one.
The present North Bridge was built as part of the reconstruction and expansion of Waverley Station, which was being undertaken concurrently by Blyth & Westland. The bridge's two northern spans pass over the station roof and its southern span overflies East Market Street. It carries the A7 road, connecting Princes Street to the north to High Street in the south.
The bridge is 171m long and with its three steel segmental arches, it contains 1,966 tonnes of steel. At 22.9m wide it is almost double the width of its predecessor. Each 53.3m span is supported on six 1.2m deep I-section plate girder ribs, with traditional outer facades of cast iron to the spandrels. The spandrel panels were designed by Robert Morham (1839-1912) and the bridge was engineered by Cunningham, Blyth & Westland.
The steelwork is supported on two masonry piers. The foundation stone “containing the usual tokens” was laid on top of the north pier with full Masonic honours on 25th May 1896 by Sir Andrew McDonald (c1837-1919), the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. McDonald also presided over the opening ceremony on 15th September 1897, for which a commemorative medal was struck.
North Bridge became a Category A listed building in December 1974. In the 1990s the decorative cast iron parapets were restored. Ductile iron replicas replaced the cast iron parapet panels and some of the lamp columns were replaced.
Architect: Robert Morham
Contractor: Sir William Arrol & Co Ltd
Masonry: William Beattie & Sons
Ironwork (1990s): Ballantine Bo'ness Iron
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SLB

North Bridge