Statement of Special Interest
Dating from 1836-7 and designed by the renowned Aberdeen architect, John Smith, Morrison s Bridge is amongst the earliest surviving examples of suspension bridges in Scotland. The classical design with the cast iron Doric columns on the pylons is unusual and characteristic of Smith s confident use of the neo-classical style in his work.
Age and Rarity
Morrison s Bridge, also known as the Shakin Briggie and St Devenick s Bridge, was constructed in 1836-7 to allow parishioners on the north side of the River Dee access to Banchory -Devenick Kirk on the south side. The bridge was designed by the renowned Aberdeen architect John Smith, and the contractors were John Duffus & Co, Aberdeen for the ironwork, and George Donaldson and George Barclay for the masonry and timber work. It first appears on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map, published in 1868.
The bridge replaced a ferry and was paid for by the minister of the church, the Reverend George Morrison. It was extensively repaired in 1920, following flood damage. The church maintained the bridge until 1952 when Aberdeen City Council took over the responsibility.
The River Dee gradually changed its course during the 20th century and the water now flows to the south of the abutments on the south side, with the result that the bridge no longer spans the whole river. Aberdeenshire Council removed the decking in 1984 for safety reasons and the bridge is no longer used.
When it was built, the bridge was 305 feet long, with a central suspension span of 185 feet. There was timber decking and railings. It is described in the New Statistical Account (1834-45) as having …such a degree of firmness that its motion is scarcely perceptible in the heaviest gales of wind . The iron-rod suspenders which held the decking were of a type designed and patented by Captain Samuel Brown, who used them for the first time for his Union Bridge across the River Tweed in 1819-20. This was the first road suspension bridge in Britain and is listed at category A (LB13645).
In terms of age, Morrison s Bridge is amongst the earliest surviving examples of its type in Scotland. When considering rarity, it is the early date of 1836-7 which marks this bridge out as of special interest within its building type. In addition, the classical design with its cast iron Doric columns is unusual and characteristic of Smith s confident use of the neo-classical style in his work.
Architectural or Historic Interest
Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality
Morrison s Bridge is a suspension bridge which used a type of iron-rod suspenders for hanging the timber decking which were based on those developed and patented by Samuel Brown who built the first road suspension bridge in Britain, the Union Bridge. It was constructed in 1819-20 and by the time Morrison s Bridge was constructed in 1837, these iron-rod suspender became the standard form for suspension bridge design.
It is the design of the pylons which marks out Morrison s Bridge as of particular interest in this section. The classical cast iron Doric columns are distinctive and one of only a handful of suspension bridges in Scotland with classical styling.
The Morrison Bridge s solid Greek Doric style is characteristic of Smith s work. John Smith (1781-1852) was a major architect in the northeast of Scotland in the mid 19th century. He was appointed the Superintendent of work for the city of Aberdeen in 1824. His output was extensive and it encompassed all building types. He is described in Colvin (1995) as one of the principal creators of the granite city of the nineteenth century . His North Parish Church (now the Aberdeen Arts Centre and listed at category A, LB19946) is a masterpiece of Greek Revival architecture.
The removal of the decking in 1984 for safety reasons has had an impact on the bridge s level of integrity, but this is not considered to significantly detract from the interest of the structure in listing terms.
Morrison s Bridge is situated over the River Dee with a residential area to the north and looking towards a more rural setting to the south, which is now predominantly a golf course. Although the bridge no longer functions, it is the only bridge structure in this section of the River Dee and the cast-iron columns and suspension cables on the north side are a distinctive and significant feature viewed from the road on the north side of the river. The bridge no longer spans the whole river, but this is not immediately apparent as the abutments to the south are situated on a tree-covered island in the river, which, when viewed from the north, blends in with the rural landscape on the south side.
There are no known regional variations
Close Historical Associations
There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2016)
Statutory address, listed building record and category of listing changed from A to B in 2016. Previously listed as Morrison s Bridge (The Shakkin Briggie) over River Dee and Morison s Bridge over River Dee .
Canmore: http://canmore.org.uk/ CANMORE ID 19407
Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1865, Published 1868) Kincardine, Sheet 111.8. 25 Inches to the Mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1865, Published 1868) Kincardine Sheet IV.9. 25 Inches to the Mile. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.
Brogden, W. A. (1998) Aberdeen, An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Edinburgh, The Rutland Press. p.171.
Colvin, H. (1995) A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p.898.
Hume, J. (1977) The Industrial Archaeology of Scotland, 2. The Highlands and Islands. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd p 70-71 & 112.
New Statistical Account (1834-45) Banchory-Devenick, County of Kincardine, Vol. 11. p.184-5.
Paxton, R. and Shipway, J. (2007) Civil Engineering Heritage, Scottish Highlands and Islands. London: Thomas Telford Ltd. p.81-2.
Sharples, J et al. (2015) The Buildings of Scotland: Aberdeenshire: South and Aberdeen. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p.280-1.
Dictionary of Scottish Architects, John Smith at http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=201801 (accessed 03/03/2015).
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Printed: 15/11/2018 14:59