The bridge builders’ legacy on Deeside

The Cambus O'May Bridge: One of the most noticable bridges on the Dee and a fine example of a Harper's Bridge
The Cambus O'May Bridge: One of the most noticable bridges on the Dee and a fine example of a Harper's Bridge

An author has written a book about his ancestors who were responsible for numerous foot suspension bridges on Deeside and Donside.

And on Saturday, October 3, Douglas Harper will be signing copies of his book - River, Railway and Ravine - at Deeside Books in Ballater.

In 1870 Douglas’ great grandfather, John Harper, applied a technique already used in the family company’s fencing systems to make cable foot suspension bridges more rigid, and safer than before.

Douglas, formerly a doctor, said: “I became interested in my family history when I retired. I knew there were a few of the bridges around but when I started I thought there were maybe about a dozen or so, but the figure was much closer to 60.”

The bridges this technique created were then built all over Britain and her Empire, exported as specified kits to be put together by a local engineer. Quite a few were built in Nepal, a country the book describes as being divided by its rivers rather than its mountains.

Owner of Deeside Books, Bryn Wate, said: “We were contacted by the publishers to see if we had any interest in holding a book signing, and because it was a local book by a local author, and a lot of these bridges were along Deeside, we were quite happy to.”

Examples of Harper’s bridges on, and close to, Deeside and Donside include the Cambus O’May Bridge just outside Ballater - though not built by the Harpers, the finial of the mast indicates their involvement, a privately owned one over the Feugh, as well as ones at Monymusk and Burnhervie, and at one point Douglas believes there were eight in Glen Tanar.

The book signing will take place between 2pm and 3:30pm.