Iconic Leith bridge restoration gets go-ahead 30 years after it closed to traffic

Plans to transform a historic A-listed bridge over the Water of Leith into an open pedestrian and cycling space have been given go-ahead by city planners.

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 4:55 am
The bridge will be restored

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Forth Ports has been granted Listed Building Consent by the city council to fully repair the Category A Listed Victoria Swing Bridge located at the Port of Leith to conserve the bridge for the future.

Under proposals outlined by the group in September and approved this week, the bridge will be transformed into a pedestrian walk and cycleway with a complete refit of the central decking area.

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Thanks to a private six figure investment the bridge, which closed to traffic nearly 30 years ago, will be fully repaired under a programme of specialist works which will protect its character and form.

Work will include full refurbishment of the northern and southern walkways, re-decking the central carriage way, replacement of the decked turning circle areas and full repair and repaint of metalwork.

Refurbishment of the north and south pedestrian walkways is expected to get underway this year, with the remaining work to start in 2022.

Pedestrian access to the bridge for the local community will be maintained for the duration of the works.

The bridge was designed by Alexander Rendel and opened in 1874 to provide an efficient road and railway route for the port following the completion of construction of Albert Dock in 1869. It is constructed of riveted wrought iron, timber and steel and originally carried a double rail track along its central deck.

Closed to vehicular traffic in the mid-1990s, the timber deck of the bridge was renewed in 2000 and later reopened to the public. It remains the largest counterweighted swing bridge in Scotland.

Charles Hammond, group chief executive at Forth Ports, said: “We are extremely pleased to have been granted consent to begin this programme of major repairs to The Victoria Swing Bridge which is an important landmark in Leith and will make an important contribution to the regeneration of the waterfront. We want to deliver a useable space for the local community and we hope that once the bridge has been restored, people will be able to enjoy this space.”

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