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Glenesk Bridge
River North Esk, Eskbank, Midlothian, Scotland, UK
Glenesk Bridge
associated engineer
James Jardine
date  1829 - 1831
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  NT322671
ICE reference number  HEW 2462/03
photo  Roland Paxton
Glenesk Bridge — or Genesk Viaduct — is considered Scotland’s finest pre-Victorian railway bridge. It was built to carry a single track of the 1.37m gauge Edinburgh & Dalkeith Railway over the River North Esk. After restoration works in 1993, the bridge was used by pedestrians and cyclists. In 2015 it reopened to rail traffic and now carries the single track of the Scottish Borders Railway (Edinburgh, Galashiels and Tweedbank).
Glenesk Bridge was designed by the railway company’s engineer James Jardine (1776-1858), who was a close associate of Thomas Telford (1757-1834). It consists of an 18.3m high, single semicircular, ashlar masonry arch, with a span of 19.8m and an original width of 4.5m between parapets. It is embellished with archivolts (moulding around the arch), tapering pilasters and extensive curved wing walls. It was completed in 1831.
The elevation of the bridge is reminiscent of the better of the bridges dating from the Highland Roads era in Scotland, many of which were constructed under Telford’s direction in the first three decades of the 19th century.
In 1845, the Edinburgh & Dalkeith Railway was bought by North British Railway and upgraded for locomotive use. The width of the track guage was increased to 1.435m under the direction of its engineer John Miller (1805-83). The line was re-opened in July 1847 and connected to Central Station at Waverley in Edinburgh via Portobello. At that time, the bridge deck had been widened to accommodate double tracks.
A steel truss was inserted in the arch in 1968 to protect it against the possibility of subsidence from local coal mining. The line was closed in 1969.
Conservation work was carried out in 1993, when the bridge (Bridge No.12) was turned over to pedestrian and cycle use, by the Edinburgh Green Belt Trust with a grant from the Railway Heritage Trust. The steel truss was removed, together with cantilevered footways that had probably added by Miller as part of the 1847 works.
The bridge was heritage listed as Category B in January 1971 and upgraded to Category A in January 1994.
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SLB

Glenesk Bridge