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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Sepia Saturday - Memories of Bridges

Each week Sepia Saturday encourages bloggers to record their family history through photographs.  

There is no shortage of bridges in my photo albums, so here is a selection with the link of  family memories.    

My father and mother, John Weston and Kathleen Danson - taken in 1937  at Kirby
Lonsdale, where they got engaged.  This remained one of their favourite spots to visit.
 Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria on the edge of the Lake District is a fascinating small town  with   a mix of  18th-century buildings and stone cottages huddled around quaint cobbled courtyards and narrow alleyways with names such as Salt Pie Lane and Jingling Lane.  The town is noted for the its three span Devil's Bridge, first built across the River Lune c.1370.  
My father  grew up in the village of Broseley, near Ironbridge, Shropshire, known as the birthplace of the industrial revolution with  the world's first ever cast iron bridge, built in 1779  over the River Severn. Dad's father worked at the power house at Coalbrookdale, which meant a 35 minute walk each way each day over the bridge.   The local historical society has been particularly helpful in my family history. The Ironbridge Gorge is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.   Photograph taken by my brother. Chris Weston. 

Two postcards of Le Pont Adolphe, Luxembourg
These photographs comes from my father's album.    During the war, Dad  served in the RAF Codes & Ciphers Branch and was seconded to General Bradley’s US 12th Army Group HQ.  He was stationed in Luxembourg in winter 1944 prior to  the Battle of the Bulge.    Dad  had fond memories of the city and the people he met there.

The Bridge, built between 1900 and 1903,  became an unofficial national symbol, representing Luxembourg's independence  and  was named after Grand Duke Adolphe who reigned Luxembourg from 1890 until 1905.   

On some 20 years  and here are my parents on the walkway of the newly opened Forth Road Bridge, spanning the Firth of Forth, near Ediinbugh with the historic Rail Bridge to the right,  We lived about 6 miles away  and it was my father's favourite Sunday outing to drive to South Queensferry to see how the bridge was progressing.   It was opened  by the Queen in September 1964 and replaced a centuries-old ferry service to carry vehicular traffic, cyclists, and pedestrians across the River Forth - a real bottleneck for everyone.   When the bridge opened,  it was the fourth biggest suspension bridge in the world and the longest outside the United States.

The adjacent Forth Rail Bridge,  opened in 1890,  is considered an iconic structure now given UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It continues to be the world's second-longest single cantilever span.

I am struck in this photograph  by the formal wear of my 56 year old mother - but oh so typical of the time - court shoes, handbag,  hat and gloves for what could have been a blustery walk.  

From family memories to bridges with historical interest.

I now live in the Scottish Borders - a region noted for its rolling hills and sparkling rivers - so naturally there are many bridges.   Here are just a few.

Chain Bridge at Melrose

The Chain Bridge at Melrose beneath  the Eildon Hills crosses the famous salmon river of the Tweed.   It was opened  in 1826 and conditions were imposed on  its use including the restraint that no more than eight people should be on it at any one time and  it  was a statutory office to make the bridge swing.  Since payment had to be made to cross the bridge, a ford downstream for horse drawn vehicles continued to be used by pedestrians for some time, with a box of stilts at each end of the ford for people to use for a safer journey,

Rennie's Bridge at Kelso 

 Another crossing of the River Tweed with the Rennie Bridge at Kelso. It was built in 1800-3 to replace one washed away in floods of 1797. Designed by John Rennie, it is an earlier and smaller scale version of the Waterloo Bridge, which he designed for London. The Toll House, where the payment had to be made, was the scene of a riot in 1854, when the locals  objected to continuing to pay the tolls when the building costs had been long cleared. It still took three years for tolls to be withdrawn. This narrow bridge  remained the only bridge across the Tweed at Kelso until the building of a new one in 1998 to the east of the town.  

Leaderfoot Viaduct 

The 19 span Leaderfoot Railway Viaduct  is 3 miles from my home and crosses over the River Tweed, near Melrose.   It  was built in 1863, with trains running until the line closed in  1965.  The structure is now in the care of Historic Scotland.     A Roman bridge once crossed the Tweed here, conveying Dere Street north from the nearby fort of Trimontium. 

Craigsford Bridge, Earlston

The old  bridge at Earlston,was built in  1737  over the Leader Water which joins the famous River Tweed at Leaderfoot (the previous photo above). It remained the main road north and south until the building of the turnpike road which became the now busy A68.   A view from my daughter's nearby cottage. 

Carolside Bridge, near Earlston

Taken on a hill walk, here we  look down on 18th century Carolside Bridge that spans the Leader Water and links two private estates Carolside and Leadervale, near Earlston.

And to finish one of my favourite photographs of a bridge - it is neither  old nor in the Scottish Borders, but it brings back memories of a happy holiday in the West Highlands.  

The Skye Road Bridge.  It  cannot be called historic, as it only opened in 1995, but the island is an iconic  symbol of Scotland's history.  The bridge across Loch Alsh links Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland with Kyleakin on Skye  with one pillar  on the small island of Eilean Ban. 

And if you  hanker after the romantic route of "Over the Sea to Skye"  you can still cross by ferry from Mallaig to the south of the island at Armadale.  

Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Click here to find what stories of bridges
other Sepia Saturday  blogger's have discovered. 


  1. Many lovely old bridges - especially the stone ones. There's just something about those graceful stone arches over a waterway that captures my imagination. But the bridge to catch my attention at this particular time is, of course, the Skye Bridge as, according to our itinerary, we leave Armadale Castle on the Isle of Skye & cross back to the mainland by bridge to see Eilean Donan Castle & I'm assuming that bridge will be the Skye Bridge! :)

  2. What a lot of old bridges and connections with your family you have here. I have half way looked through my photos but no luck so far. I have memories of bridges, just can't find any photos of them. How odd for me.

  3. A truly lovely Post Sue. Thanks for sharing your stories and images.

  4. There seems to be no end to the creativity of bridge builders. So many different styles in your photos.

  5. A great slection of bridge photographs. You are lucky to live near so many of them. We went over the sea to Skye in 1976, prior to construction of the bridge. I suppose it make Skye more easily accesible but perhaps less romantic.

  6. Beautiful bridges! We in the USA think we're "special" by having bridges that are 250 years old -- you folks over there have bridges that are twice that -- and they are lovely.

  7. Some lovely bridges. I am not sure what it is about bridges, but they are such a delight to look at and so inviting to cross.

  8. I had no idea that iron bridges were built in the 1700s! Amazing! What a sweet treasure you have in the photo of your mom and dad, especially that they are at the site where he proposed.

  9. Some fine bridges here. I must say I’m always drawn to the old stone bridges which look just right for playing Pooh Sticks.

  10. Hi Sue - yes fashion certainly has changed. Like you, I was struck by how formal the young women looked in my mother's photos when they were essentially on a bush walk !

  11. Your post made me think of a painting that has hung in my families home as long as I can remember. It was painted by my great-uncle John, an emigrant from Motherwell to California, and is entitled "Moffat Water at Roundstonefoot, Scotland." A beautiful stone bridge across a creek. If I ever get back to Scotland I'm going to find that bridge.

  12. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment on my memory off bridges and shared their own stories.

  13. A lovely selection of beautifully designed bridges. I've been over the Skye Road Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge. I even walked halfway across - until I'd had enough of the wind!

  14. Fun post, and of course I really like both of your photos of your parents, best of all, and most especially their daring first rock standing, water flowing, clothes getting a bit sprayed maybe, photo!

  15. All wonderful structures, whether high or low, long or short. I remember a visit to see Iron Bridge, an impressive piece of engineering. The Chain Bridge would work as an example for my post this weekend.


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