Rail viaduct proposal goes ahead 27 years later

Louise and Bruce today. Picture: Network Rail
Louise and Bruce today. Picture: Network Rail
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More than two decades ago, rail enthusiast Dr Bruce Ball dreamed of proposing marriage at a perfect railway location, but his plans went off track.

Bruce set out to pop the question to his now wife, Louise, on top of the Lothianbridge viaduct in Newtongrange in 1985, but the path was blocked and he had to propose further along the line.

Lothian Viaduct. Picture: Toby Williams

Lothian Viaduct. Picture: Toby Williams

However, after 27 years of marriage, Network Rail engineers gave Bruce permission to surprise Louise by “re-popping” the question at his chosen spot before works to build a new line linking Edinburgh and the Borders start. The News previously revealed how engineers will tunnel underneath the City Bypass to allow the line to reach the city centre.

With a few safety measures in place, Bruce’s plans went full steam ahead on Saturday. Bruce, 59, said: “I’m an enthusiast about the Waverley Route and always wanted to get on to the viaduct.

“I like the symbolism of bridges and, in 1985 I wanted to propose to my now wife on the longest bridge on the Waverley Route, the Lothianbridge viaduct. Unfortunately, we could not get access to it that day, and I had to make do with proposing at the site of Hawthornden Junction.”

Work to refurbish the viaduct will begin in the next few weeks and the opportunity to finally complete the stroll was running out.

Louise and Bruce on their wedding day

Louise and Bruce on their wedding day

Bruce, from Roslin, Midlothian, said: “I saw a window of opportunity and I decided to try to contact Network Rail. I never thought they would entertain me.”

In 1985, the couple had toasted their engagement with coffee and digestive biscuits. “This time around, I brought some Champagne, but we still had a few biscuits,” said Bruce.

Retired primary schoolteacher Louise, 63, said Bruce gave away no hints.

“I was told in the morning to get ready and put some make-up on, that was all I was told. It was only when we got to the A7 that I thought to myself, ‘it has to be something to do with the Waverley line’. The day was lovely – it was so nice for Bruce to be able to achieve what he wanted after all those years.

“He’s fanatical about the Waverley route, so friends and family were not altogether surprised to hear the news.”