New lease of life for Polhollick Bridge

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The reopening of the historic Polhollick Footbridge was celebrated this week with a community walk and civic ceremony hosted by Aberdeenshire Provost Hamish Vernal.

The bridge is an important feature of the path network within the Cairngorms National Park and is part of the popular Seven Bridges Walk which passes over the Rivers Dee and Muick.

Contractors have just completed a major conservation exercise and refurbishment of the B-listed bridge, which has been closed since May to allow for the works to be carried out.

The Harper Foundry of Aberdeen designed and constructed over 60 suspension bridges, in Aberdeenshire and around the world, between 1870 and 1920.

Louis Harper is thought to have collaborated in the design of Polhollick Footbridge in 1892, assisting the main designer and contractor James Abernethy and Co. of Aberdeen.

Douglas Harper, Louis’ grandson, joined Provost Vernal in officially reopening the bridge.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy and Resources Committee approved funding of £300,000 earlier this year for the work. Historic Environment Scotland also awarded £120,000 as part of its Building Repair Grant scheme.

Localised repairs have been carried out to damaged elements of the bridge, however the majority of the structure has been retained in line with best conservation practice, including the original galvanised steel suspension ropes.

The bridge has also been repainted white, which is the signature colour adopted for several suspension bridges over the River Dee.

Provost Vernal said: “I commend everyone involved in their efforts to carry out the job with such skill, and thank the local community for their patience this summer while the work was carried out.

“I’m sure his forebears would be very happy to see us celebrating their legacy.”