Dunkeld Bridge Celebrations to mark 200th anniversary
Celebrations in Dunkeld to mark the opening of the historic Thomas Telford designed bridge in 1809.
Dunkeld celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Thomas Telford designed bridge with a community celebration. Atholl Highlanders led the ceremonial parade over the bridge followed by locals in historical dress. The parade was joined by local politicians including John Swinney, Pete Wishart and Murdo Fraser.
The Atholl Highlanders
The parade marched over the banner-festooned bridge and then onto the Cross where speeches were followed by a rendition of Niel Gow's 'Dunkeld Bridge' by local fiddle player Pete Clark.
A play, fiddle concert and ceilidh completed Saturday's events. On Sunday a service of dedication was held at Dunkeld Cathedral followed by a fireworks display over the River Tay.
Locals enjoying the speeches
Chairman of the Dunkeld 200 committee, Dave McNicoll, said the events were two years in the planning and were a 'labour of love' involving volunteers from the community.
The bridge cost £34,000 to build in 1803 in a public private partnership between the government and Duke of Atholl. The Duke reclaimed building costs by collecting tolls. The tolls were contentious and still being paid decades after the construction of the bridge. This resulted in the 'pontage riots' of 1869 where the toll gates were thrown into the river.
The bridge is now cared for by Perth and Kinross Council. Maintenance of the 200 year-old bridge requires careful handling. Adam Olejnik, Head of Public Space management for Perth and Kinross Council, says:
'We are proud to have a good example of one of Thomas Telford's major bridge designs in Perth and Kinross. Works we carry out require planning permission and agreement with Historic Scotland. The bridge is over 200 metres long and has seven spans over the fast flowing River Tay. Access to the underside of the bridge can prove difficult during periods of high river flow'.
Perth and Kinross Council are planning a major refurbishment scheme for the bridge consisting of masonry repairs and re-pointing, costing approximately £0.5 million.
There will be a commemorative plaque placed onto the approach parapet Dunkeld Bridge on 21 May to commemorate the bicentenary of the opening of the bridge. This has been initiated by the Panel for Historic Engineering Works of the Institution of Civil Engineers. The unveiling celebration will be attended by the Duke of Atholl.
last updated: 30/03/2009 at 11:17