Parts salvaged from the demolition of the former Gattonside Footbridge in 1991 including: anchor plate (formerly a ship’s rudder, cast iron saddle, wooden deck planks, deck plank bearers, suspended rod stirrups, handrail braces, handrail top bar, rods of 0.75 in diameter, vertical handrail bars, wrought iron saddle connectors, wrought iron hangers, wedges and spacers.
The display is a cross-section of the bridge constructed from the parts salvaged. A chain connector link at the saddle is displayed top centre.
The bridge is of the Samuel Brown chain type. It was built in 1826, probably by J.S. Brown, engineer, and Redpath, Brown and Company, contractors. It has castellated masonry pylons, two pairs of iron link chains on each side, iron rod suspenders to the wooden deck, and iron railings. Its span about 91 m (300 ft).
It crosses the River Tweed and gives access to the village of Gattonside on the north of the river. The bridge was opened formally on 26th October 1826. There was also a ford river crossing just downstream for horse drawn vehicles. The paving of the ford was broken only in the 20th century when sewage pipes were laid to Gattonside.
Several conditions were placed upon the use of the bridge, including the constraint that no more than eight people should be on the bridge at one time. It was also a statutory offence to make the bridge swing. Notices are still displayed at either end notifying those crossing of the various restrictions. The bridge underwent major repairs in 1991 by Travers Morgan Consulting Group and RJ McLeod (Contractors) Ltd when the chains and footway were removed and repaired and the ‘swing’ was eliminated.
The house at the south end of the bridge was at one time the toll house and was built at the same time as the bridge. Before the wooden porch was built, the door faced directly along the bridge and the toll man could see if anyone was crossing or how many people were on the bridge. Since payment had to be made to cross the bridge, the ford continued to be used for many years. There was a box of stilts at each end of the ford for people to use when crossing the river and even as late as 1929 the refuse cart made frequent ford crossings to and from Gattonside.
A description of the bridge can be found at https://canmore.org.uk/site/55775/melrose-gattonside-suspension-footbridge.
A description of the ship’s rudder used as an anchor plate can be found at https://ice-museum-scotland.hw.ac.uk/product/1991-010-1/.
A description of the chain saddle can be found at https://ice-museum-scotland.hw.ac.uk/product/1991-010-2/.