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Arches over the Water of Leith

The four-arched Dean Bridge towers 32 metres above the Water of Leith in Edinburgh.

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The four graceful arches support a road bridge, measuring 136m in length and 12m in breadth, that carries the Queensferry Road over the Dean Gorge.

It was the last major work before retirement of the bridge designer Thomas Telford, and was completed in 1831 when he was seventy-three years old.  Between completion and the contract hand-over date, a toll-gate was erected at each end of the bridge and a fee of one penny was levied on pedestrians wishing to enjoy the view from the structure. The opening date was early in 1832, though the bridge was not opened to horse and cart traffic until 1834.

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Sadly, the bridge soon became a popular spot for suicides and in 1888, the Edinburgh Corporation asked the Burgh Engineer John Cooper to recommend measures designed to deter suicides.  As a result,  the side parapet of the bridge was raised.  

Maybe this grim heritage inspired  Ian Rankin’s book Strip Jack, in which a woman is found dead in the river underneath Dean Bridge.  The bridge is also an important location in the novel “The Lewis Man” by Peter May.

Related post:
Through the Railings

Linked to Word a Week: Arch.

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