Sunday, October 4, 2009

High Bridge

This is something I was unaware of until I started googling the fort at Fort William the other day - High Bridge a few miles up the road near Spean Bridge.

Built across the River Spean in 1736 by General Wade as part of his network of military roads through the Highlands, High Bridge is not marked with gothic lettering on any current Ordnance Survey map. That's probably because it collapsed in 1913 long after it had been bypassed by the current bridge at Spean Bridge a mile or so upstream (east). The latter bridge, which carries the A82 Glasgow - Fort William - Inverness road, was built by Thomas Telford around 1813 and widened when the A82 was improved in 1932.

This is how High Bridge looked in the late 19th century as photographed by the antiquarian Erskine Beveridge (picture sourced from RCAHMS):-

And this is how it looks today with only the piers remaining (and considerably more trees in the gorge):-

Image Copyright J M Briscoe and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

In the picture above there seems to be a metal bailey bridge from one bank over two of the piers but not crossing the river - I don't know, I've never been there.

Anyway, the remains of High Bridge seem to me to be a rather neglected landmark which deserve gothic lettering (and blue shading) on the OS map. Perhaps a brown tourist attraction sign on the road as well. The reason is that General Wade built about 250 miles of roads but only two major bridges. One is the very famous bridge over the River Tay at Aberfeldy (below) and the other is High Bridge.

(Above picture Copyright Jo McClure.)

I shall come back in a future posting to more detail on General Wade's military roads but in the meantime leave you with an extract from the 1875 OS one inch map showing the two bridges over the Spean before High Bridge had collapsed. (In between the two, a railway bridge was later built in the early 20th century which is gone now as well - I'll need to find out about that as well.)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting Neil, I have kayaked under both of those pictured bridges!