The Brow Well Bridge is once again open to traffic following the completion of the replacement bridge in November. The bridge, which is situated near Ruthwell close to the site of Brow Well – a landmark of reputed healing powers and associated with Robert Burns, was originally built around the early 19th century.
The 200-year-old bridge was regularly subjected to both the effects of the tide and rapid surface water run-off causing it’s eventual collapse on the west side in September 2019. A temporary bridge, supplied by Retro Bridge Ltd, was installed in November 2019 allowing the B725 road to be reopened. Due to the historic nature of this site, there then followed an extensive period of investigation, consultation, design, procurement and approvals – resulting in the work starting on the replacement bridge in May of this year.
The new bridge has been sympathetically designed and reconstructed using parts of the original structure. The design incorporates the original arch form that spreads the load to the foundations in the same way the 19th century arch would have done. The stone clad exterior has been created using original stone recovered upstream of the bridge, together with local reclaimed stone. The fundamental difference between the 1800s Brow Well bridge and the 2023 Brow Well bridge is their foundations. While the original bridge was built on a timber and stone foundation, the new bridge has been built on top of 18 reinforced concrete piles. This modern slant on bridge structure should help make sure that the new bridge will be overlooking the historic, healing Brow Well landmark for at least another 200 years.
Councillor Ian Blake, Chair of Communities Committee said: “The previous damage to this bridge highlights the risks to our infrastructure from coastal and flooding impacts that the council manage to keep the roads network open. We were fortunate in this situation to be able to install a temporary structure while we progressed a robust design and construction process to provide a replacement bridge that will be in use for a long time to come.”
Vice Chair of committee, Councillor Jackie McCamon, added: “This project is a great example of the work undertaken through the Roads Service and Engineering Design in its programme of inspections and repairs to bridges across our road network, with a commitment to protecting and enhancing the heritage of the region.”