Crathie pupils cut the ribbon to open bridge

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Pupils from Crathie Primary School joined the Provost of Aberdeenshire in the reopening of Balmoral Bridge last week.

Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the famous Victorian engineer, the bridge was constructed in 1857 for Prince Albert who purchased the Balmoral Estate for Queen Victoria.

The grade A-listed bridge had been closed since the beginning of October last year to allow for major strengthening and refurbishment work.

Provost of Aberdeenshire, Jill Webster attended the opening ceremony on Friday February 20. She said that it was great to see the Crathie pupils at the event, representing the local community for whom the bridge signifies Deeside’s rich history as well as being an important infrastructure link.

The Provost also thanked local residents for their patience while the essential works were carried out.

The bridge’s deck has been replaced, exchanging aged timber for reinforced concrete, without altering the bridge’s historic elements.

The former timber decking between the main beams had been in place and subject to the elements for 35 years and was in poor condition.

The new reinforced concrete replacement decking should last far longer. The whole bridge superstructure has also been repainted.

Some of the pupils from Crathie primary school helping the Provost with the ceremony live on the opposite side of the River Dee to their school, and therefore the bridge’s reopening held special significance to them.

The next available vehicular crossing over the Dee is at Ballater, which meant a total diversion of around 14 miles for those living on and around the Balmoral Estate.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Roads and Infrastructure Services, Philip McKay, said: “The integrity of the bridge, which is crossed by around 60,000 tourists each summer, has been secured for the long-term future.

“The £450,000 cost is a worthy investment in the preservation of this iconic Aberdeenshire bridge.”

Cllr Geva Blackett said: “Wonderful to see the bridge open again after a winter of long detours! A huge ‘thank you’ should go to all those who worked in sometimes freezing conditions and have done such a great job.”