Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
1772 - 1779
ICE reference number
Banff Bridge carries the A98 over the River Deveron between Banff and Macduff in Aberdeenshire. It replaced an earlier bridge that was swept away in a flood.
Banff Bridge is John Smeaton’s third major bridge, and is similar in both design and structure to his earlier bridges at Coldstream and Perth, albeit with smaller arches. As is characteristic of Smeaton's major bridges, the weight of it is in its foundations, while the spandrels incorporate voids between parallel walls. This technique allowed him to minimise the thickness of the arches — they are just 0.6m thick — and thus save money on materials.
Banff a seven-arch segmental masonry bridge, with arches of 134 degrees and spans of 15.2m. As built, the roadway was 5.5m wide between parapets. Stone for construction was taken “from a quarry very near the bridge”. The spandrel walls were decorated with ornamental circles (known as occuli), picked out in black rubble masonry.
The stone bridge piers were built using timber cofferdams to keep water out of the workings (except at the highest tides). Piers were founded on short timber piles and protected by rubble mounds as a defence against scour.
The works were completed in 1779 at a cost of some £9,000, considerable more than Smeaton’s 1772 estimate of £4,548.
In 1881, the bridge was widened under the direction of John Willet. The parapet walls were removed and conjoined segmental arches of larger radius were added to each side. The parapets and occuli were reused, although the occuli are no longer black.
In February 2009, Banff & Macduff Community Council lit up the bridge with "architectural illumination". Three narrow beam projectors at each corner direct light onto the underside of the structure. The projectors use energy efficient light bulbs for a subtle effect, and to minimise the project’s carbon footprint. The lights switch on with the street lighting and turn off at midnight.
Resident engineer (1772): James Kyle
Associated engineer (1881 widening works): John Willet
“John Smeaton, FRS” by Professor A.W. Skempton
Thomas Telford Limited, London, 1981