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Back in Perth

A very enjoyable couple of days down in Musselburgh catching up with Margaret & Gordon. Back in Perth now with the much blipped Smeaton's Bridge, a night scene this time.

Backblip: Pensioner's Outing

For the history buffs:

Medieval Bridges


In 1209, a bridge at the foot of Perth High Street was swept away by floods. It must have been rebuilt soon after, because a record exists of Alexander II meeting his father's funeral cortege at the bridge of Perth in 1214. In 1317 the bridge was mentioned in a charter of Robert the Bruce, and in 1328 he asked the Abbot of Scone to allow stones to be taken from Kincarrathie Quarry for repairs to the Bridge of Perth and the Bridge of Earn. During the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries there are numerous references to the bridge needing repairs and towards the end of the 16th century it became obvious that a new bridge had to be built.

MyIne's bridge 1616-1621

In 1604 King James VI engaged his Master Mason John Mylne to build a new bridge to the north of the old site. The work was hampered by flooding and freezing of the river, but the keystone of the final arch was laid in 1616. Unfortunately, Mylne's bridge was rather low, and very vulnerable to a rise in river level. In 1621 there was a great storm which lasted three days, and a terrible flood which made many homeless, destroyed the town's stores of meal and flour, and washed away the bridge.

Tay boatmen

During the 150 years that Perth was without a bridge, boatmen were employed to ferry goods and traffic across the Tay. On the Perth side of the river boats moored in an arch in the embankment at the North Shore. On the opposite side they moored at a boathouse on the site of the present Kinnoull Parish Church.

This crossing was a difficult and often dangerous one, and amongst the busiest in Scotland. At one time more than 30 boats were employed on the Tay. Many of the boatmen's gravestones can still be seen in Kinnoull Graveyard on the east side of the river.

Smeaton's Bridge 1771

The loss of a safe crossing in 1621 contributed to a decline in the town's fortunes, and in 1766 Thomas, Earl of Kinnoull headed an effort to obtain funding for a new bridge. Financial backing from the government and the Earl himself, as well as public subscription led to the commission of John Smeaton, architect of the Eddystone Lighthouse, to build a new bridge at Perth. Smeaton's bridge was completed in 1771and is generally known as Perth Bridge.

It was soon put to the test. In February 1774, during a rapid thaw, broken ice became wedged under the bridge, and blocked up the river channel. Most of the town and both Inches were flooded, but the bridge stood firm. Smeaton's bridge has survived many floods since. Some of the flood levels are marked on the north side of the westmost pier.

Increasing traffic during the 19th century resulted in the bridge being widened by A. D. Stewart in 1869. The stone parapets were removed, and footpaths projected over iron brackets.

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