Edinburgh council asked to approve refurbishment of landmark swing bridge in Leith

A landmark 19th century swing bridge in Leith is set to be refurbished and brought back into use for the community.
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Forth Ports has submitted plans to the city council for the repair and conservation of the Category A-listed Rennie’s Isle swing bridge at the Water of Leith.

The proposed works would ensure its structural integrity for the future, preserve its appearance and make it accessible for the community as a walkway. Part of the bridge area would also be used as an outdoor seating space for the Teuchter’s Landing public house in Dock Place.

The Rennie's Isle swing bridge was a key part of the design for Leith docks in the 1800s.The Rennie's Isle swing bridge was a key part of the design for Leith docks in the 1800s.
The Rennie's Isle swing bridge was a key part of the design for Leith docks in the 1800s.
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The bridge, named after prominent Scottish engineer John Rennie, was a key part of his design of Leith docks in the 1800s, along with the nearby Victoria swing bridge, where work is already under way on a full refurbishment.

But there is conflicting information on when the Rennie’s Isle bridge was constructed. The current iron bridge is thought to have replaced an earlier timber swing bridge, but it is not clear whether it was installed by Rennie himself during construction of the Old West Docks between 1810 and 1817, or whether it came later, around 1850.

The bridge is 15ft wide, in two halves giving a clear span of 35ft 6in, and 87ft 3in long.

The proposed refurbishment works include replacement of the timber structure, redecoration, installation of bollards, removal of trolley rails and installation of metal detail, installation of protective mesh and new timber blocks below existing railing uprights.

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Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond said: “The swing bridges in Leith are historical landmarks in the area and we are pleased to be able to submit plans to preserve Rennie’s Isle Bridge for the future. There is a great opportunity to create not only a usable walkway but also to create an attractive outdoor space at Teuchter’s Landing.”

And Teuchters director John Tindal said: “We are very excited to bring the bridge back to its former glory, working closely with Forth Ports, allowing 24-hour access to the bridge which will be of huge relief to the local community and allowing us to utilise the bridge with very attractive and unique additional seating to our outdoor area with table service.”

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