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- Category: A
- Date Added: 15/06/1965
- Local Authority: Edinburgh
- Planning Authority: Edinburgh
- Burgh: Edinburgh
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 24271 74005
- Coordinates: 324271, 674005
Thomas Telford, 1829-31; later alterations to parapets, 1912. Prominent segmental arched 4-span road bridge with plain classical detailing. Sandstone ashlar. 4 large semi-circular arches set beneath larger segmental arches, springform narrow, hollow rectangular section piers supporting footway. Moulded band course with plain parapet over. Small cast-iron fleur-de-lys to parapet copes.
Statement of Special Interest
Large scale, high-level road bridge carrying a main arterial route into the West End of Edinburgh over the Water of Leith. A late stone bridge design by Thomas Telford spanning a deep gorge, making a dramatic entry into the city. The bridge includes many engineering innovations including hollow piers, to reduce the weight of the structure, which Telford first used at Pont Cysyllte (Rolt). An original 3-span design had to be abandoned because of difficulties in driving the foundations. One of the original designs also included further decorative features such as castellated approaches (linking to the idea of a bridge as the gateway to the city) and decorative spandrels which were never executed. The parapets were made higher in 1912 to try and prevent people jumping off.
The bridge was provided by Lord Provost John Learmonth with the assistance of the Cramond Road Trustees. It appears that Learmonth funded most of the construction himself, although it was the Cramond Road Trustees who stipulated that the bridge should be designed by Thomas Telford. Learmonth's provision of funds was not a wholly public spirited gesture as the bridge gave better access to his lands to the N of the Western New Town and provided the potential to develop the area around Learmonth Terrace. Although publically the bridge was a success it did not have the immediate effect for which Learmonth had hoped, with the first feus in Clarendon Crescent (see separate listing) not being taken up until 1850. Despite the lack of immediate development to the north of the bridge, it provided a key high level arterial route into the city, avoiding the steep gradients at the Dean Village (see separate listing) and Bell's Mills bridges.
Thomas Telford was one of the most influential and innovative engineers of the 19th century. He built a number of major bridges, most famously Iron Bridge in Shropshire and the Menai Straits both of which were major engineering innovations. He worked mainly on roads in Scotland, building a number of important bridges including an unusual circular arch road bridge at Bannockburn (see separate listing). The Dean Bridge design used a similar design to a smaller bridge he built at Lothian Bridge (1827 -1831) near Pathhead in Midlothian (see separate listing).
(List description revised 2009 as part of re-survey.)
James Kay, Kay's Plan of Edinburgh (1836); Ordnance Survey, Large Scale Town Plan, (1849 -53); J Gifford, C McWilliam, D M Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1988) p. 387; John Hume, The Industrial Archaeology of Scotland, 1, Lowlands and Borders, (1985); LTC Rolt, Thomas Telford, (1979); BC Skinner, The Origins of the Dean Bridge Project, The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, No. 30 (1959).
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