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Talk by Bruce Keith: 'Bridgescapes'

On 5th. March 2024, retired surveyor, author and environmentalist Bruce Keith, gave a talk in Rutherglen Library on the history of bridge building in Scotland. This was Bruce's second talk given to Rutherglen Heritage Society. Last year, he delivered a talk entitled 'Are We Nearly There Yet' which was about the history of Scottish milestones and way markers, and like 'Bridgescapes', was based on his book of the same name.

An appreciative audience of 21, comprising Heritage Society members, website subscribers and guests, enjoyed Bruce's informative and entertaining talk which featured the stories behind some of Scotland's best known 'iconic' bridges and others perhaps less well known, and of the men who designed and built them.

Above, Bruce Keith describing the Brig o' Balgownie which spans the River Don at Aberdeen. Built around 1320, it is one of Scotland's oldest Ecclesiastical bridges which were built to allow access for parishioners across rivers to their local church.

Photo Carrick McDonald

Bruce's talk celebrated Scotland's bridge-building heritage, tracing its development through the country's turbulent history. and heralding the legacy of engineering prowess that Scottish engineers have endowed both at home and around the world.

Above, a section of the appreciative audience which attended Bruce's Bridgescapes talk.

Photo Carrick McDonald

Bruce told us how the collapse of the Tay Bridge in 1879 led to what appeared to be the over-engineering of the Forth Bridge, completed in 1890, in an attempt to restore public confidence. As well as describing many of Scotland's bridges and the developing styles of their construction over time, he also talked about the famous Scottish bridge builders such as Thomas Telford and the family dynasties like the Rennies, the Mylnes and the Adams.

The talk concluded with a description of the Queensferry Crossing bridge completed in 2017 and opened by Queen Elizabeth exactly 53 years after she opened the Forth Road Bridge.

After the talk, several copies of Bruce's Bridgescapes book were purchased by people attending the talk. Bruce e-mailed us after his talk, thanking us for 'The very warm welcome and the generous support of my book...' and, referring to us and the Library, added, 'A great Society and a great venue too!'

Carrick McDonald

© 2024 by Rutherglen Heritage Society.


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