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Victoria Swing Bridge, Edinburgh

Designed to carry both road and rail traffic across the Water of Leith, the Grade A-listed Victoria Swing Bridge, designed by Alexander Rende, is the largest counterweighted swing bridge in Scotland. Until the completion of the Kincardine Bridge, also in Scotland, in 1936, it is thought to have been the longest clear swing bridge span in Britain. After several years when its future was at risk, it is now being restored by Forth Ports. It is passed by the new tram line to Newhaven, which opened on 7th June 2023
Region:
Edinburgh
Red Wheel Site:
Yes
Transport Mode(s):
Rail, Road
Address:

Ocean Drive,

Leith

Postcode:
EH6 6QA
Visitor Centre:
No
Website:

About Victoria Swing Bridge, Edinburgh

The Victoria Swing Bridge, designed by Alexander Rende, is the largest counterweighted swing bridge in Scotland. Until the completion of the Kincardine Bridge, also in Scotland, in 1936, it is thought to have been the longest clear swing bridge span in Britain[2] (The Swing Bridge, River Tyne, completed two years after the Victoria Bridge, has a longer deck span).
The dock upstream from the bridge was begun in 1833, but financial troubles meant it was only finished between 1869 and 1875, and is nearly rectangular with a quayage of 3,860 feet (1,180 m) and an area of 10.7 acres (4.3 ha).[1] The bridge was built between 1871 and 1874 to service the new docks.[2] It was engineered by Rendel and Robertson, with J. H. Bostock as resident engineer.[2] McDonald & Grant were contractors for the foundations, and the bridge was built by the Skerne Iron Works.[2] The works cost around GB£30,000.[2]
The bridge was originally B listed but was upgraded to an A listing in 2014. The swing bridge had been added to the Buildings at Risk register in 2018.
In September 2021 Forth Ports revealed plans to conserve the Category A listed structure with full restoration works, costing a six-figure sum.. The work includes full refurbishment of the northern and southern walkways, re-decking the central carriage way, replacement of the decked turning circle areas and a full repair and repaint of metalwork on the bridge.
It is constructed of riveted wrought iron, timber and steel. The bridge originally carried a double rail track along its central deck (providing access for both trains and road vehicles) and features pedestrian walkways on either side.
Phase one, the refurbishment of the north and south pedestrian walkways, is expected to be undertaken in 2021, with the remaining work due in 2022.
Pedestrian access to the bridge will remain open for the duration of the works.
Charles Hammond, Forth Ports group chief executive, said: "The Victoria Swing Bridge is a weel-kent sight in Leith and it is an important and rare surviving example of our heritage.
"The plans we have submitted to the council have been well thought through, and will ensure that the repairs are appropriate for the conservation of this important landmark.
"We want to also create a useable space for the local community and we hope that once the bridge has been restored, people will be able to enjoy this historic space."

 

 

Detail: 212 feet (65 m) long in total, with a clear span of 120 feet (37 m), and a roadway width of 24 feet (7.3 m).[2] The bridge was constructed from wrought iron, and weighed 620 tonnes (610 long tons; 680 short tons), including 60 tonnes (59 long tons; 66 short tons) of timber decking and 240 tonnes (240 long tons; 260 short tons) of kentledge counterweight.[2] The bridge carried two tracks of a dock railway and a road, and there are footpaths on either side outside the truss structure.[2][4] The tracks and roadway have now been removed, and the bridge has a wooden deck.[4]

The bridge was powered hydraulically by a power station just to the north.[5][6] It swung to the north, and the space afforded for the counterbalance can still be seen.[6]
It has been succeeded by a new bridge further downstream, which carries a roadway known as Ocean Drive and will provide the route for the Trams extension to Newhaven.

Photos: N Chadwick (cc-by-sa/2.0);  wfmillar (cc-by-sa/2.0) Google Maps

 

 

Off Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh

 

 

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•  "Victoria Dock with Pedestrian and Vehicular Swing Bridges (Category A Listed Building) (LB24971)". Historic Environment Scotland. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
• "Edinburgh, Leith Docks, Victoria Swing Bridge". Canmore. Edinburgh: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
• "Victoria Swing Bridge". leithlocalhistorysociety.org.uk. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
• "Edinburgh, Leith Docks, Alexandra Dry Dock, Hydraulic Power Station". rcahms.gov.uk. Re-trieved 23 September 2014.
• "Edinburgh, Leith Docks, Victoria Bridge". rcahms.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 September 2014.

 

 

National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR