Dryburgh Abbey Bridge

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Dryburgh Abbey Bridge was a cable-stayed footbridge of significant historical interest built across the River Tweed near Dryburgh Abbey in Berwickshire. It connected the villages of Dryburgh in Berwickshire and St Boswells in Roxburghshire across the river. A crossing had existed here for centuries, originally with a ferry service.

The bridge had been commissioned by David Stewart Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan, an eccentric aristocrat who later died in Dryburgh. It was 230 feet long. At the time, the cable-stayed type of bridge was undergoing a period of rapid growth in popularity. The Earl opened the completed bridge on August 1, 1817, but in January 1818 it collapsed. After a redesign a replacement was built, but this too collapsed in 1838, by which time the Earl had been dead for several years.

The 1818 collapse, together with that of a slightly shorter bridge across the Saale River in Germany in 1824, caused the reputation of cable-stayed bridges to decline rapidly, and despite a history dating back to the 17th century, the design was almost completely abandoned for over a century, with suspended-deck suspension bridges gaining favour. It took research in the 1930s, and experience with reconstruction after the Second World War, to rehabilitate the cable-stayed bridge concept, if effeted with sound design.

Very shortly after the 1818 collapse (between 1819 and 1820) another bridge, the Union Bridge, was built further downstream. The was an iron suspended-deck suspension bridge, the longest in the world upon its completion.

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