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Hucheson Bridge, site of
River Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
associated engineer
Robert Stevenson
date  1829 - 1833
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  NS593644
Robert Stevenson's Hucheson (or Hutcheson) Bridge was the third bridge in the same place over the River Clyde in Glasgow. It was replaced by the present wrought iron Albert Bridge, completed in 1872, after claims that its foundations had become unstable from navigational deepening of the river.
In 1794, the first bridge — known as Hutchesontown Bridge — was begun when the city's Lord Provost Gilbert Hamilton (1744-1808) laid the foundation stone. The bridge was 122m long and 7.9m wide between parapets, with five stone arches, and cost £6,000. It was built by John Roberton (or Robertson), a mason from Pollockshaws, and funded partly by patrons of Hutcheson's Hospital. The structure was almost completed when it was destroyed by a flood on 18th November 1795.
The second structure was an elegant timber footbridge erected just upstream in 1803. It cost £1,200 and was designed by Peter Nicholson as “one grand sweep” of 104m with eight supporting piers.
However, it proved inadequate for the number of people trying to cross. John Rennie (1761-1821) proposed elegant designs in iron and stone for its permanent replacement in 1815, but it was a scheme by Robert Stevenson (1772-1850) that was eventually implemented.
Acts of Parliament for a new Hucheson Bridge were granted in 1814 and 1828. In the autumn of 1829, the foundation stone of Stevenson’s five span sandstone masonry bridge was laid by Robert Dalglish (1770-1844), preceptor of the hospital. Its design was described by Stephen Fenwick of the Royal Military Academy as one of the “best specimens” of its type.
Excavations for the north abutment encountered sand running with springs of water. To make the foundations more secure, the platform for the abutment was enlarged and the number of timber bearing piles increased. The inner row of cofferdam sheet piles within which construction was taking place were not removed but driven further into the river bed. On the south side, piles were driven landward of the abutment. The first course of abutment masonry was 2.1m below the “summer water mark”, and the first course of the piers 2.75m below it. Each of the four piers was 3.2m tall.
Construction of the bridge arches began in June 1831. The five low rise segmental arches were segments of a 19.8m radius circle. There were two spans of 19.8m, two of 22.7m, with a central span of 24.1m. The overall bridge length was 124m. The width between the parapets was 11m and accommodated a metalled roadway with stone pavements 1.5m wide on both sides. Six gas lamps were erected atop each of the parapet walls.
The bridge was completed in 1833 and cost more than £23,000. The bridge trustees purchased it in 1845 for just £20,000.
Concerns were raised over the effects of dredging in the river, including by engineer Daniel Miller (c.1825-1888). Parliamentary evidence of 1865 indicates that the extent to which the foundations had collapsed from navigational deepening had been overstated. Robert’s son David Stevenson (1815-86), James Leslie (1801-89), Sir James Falshaw (1810-1889) and Thomas Page (1803-77) all indicated how Stevenson’s bridge could be saved at a fraction of the cost of its replacement — to no avail.
Hucheson Bridge was closed on the 20th June 1868, and demolished soon afterwards. The present Albert Bridge on the site was built 1871-72.
Resident engineer: Mr Laidlaw
Contractor: John Steedman
Research: ECPK
"Account of Hutcheson Bridge, Glasgow", in The Theory, Practice, and Architecture of Bridges of Stone, Iron, Timber, and Wire, Vol.1, London, 1843
"The rise and progress of the City of Glasgow" by James Cleland
John Smith & Son, Glasgow, 1840
reference sources   CEH SLB

Hucheson Bridge, site of