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Aberdeen, Cults, St Devenick Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge (19th Century)

Site Name Aberdeen, Cults, St Devenick Suspension Bridge

Classification Suspension Bridge (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) St Devenicks Bridge ; Morrison's Bridge; Morison's Bridge; River Dee; The Shakkin' Briggie

Canmore ID 19407

Site Number NJ80SE 43

NGR NJ 89770 02609

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeen, City Of
  • Parish Peterculter
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District City Of Aberdeen
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ80SE 43 89770 02609

Morrison's Bridge [NAT]

OS 1:10,560 map, 1967.

Morison's Bridge (disused) [NAT]

OS (GIS) AIB, May 2006.

Aberdeen, Suspension Bridge over the River Dee.

1831: The Toll house and pylons on North side of suspension bridge.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

(Location cited as NJ 897 027). St Devenick Bridge, Cults. Built 1836-7 by engineer John Smith. A very fine suspension bridge with iron-rod chains of typical Samuel Brown type, iron-rod suspenders and wooden deck and railings. The main span is 185ft (56.4m) long. The pylons are of cast iron, with Greek doric columns, on masonry piers. The S abutment has been washed away and the bridge is disused.

J R Hume 1977a.

(Suspension bridge of Samual Brown chain type: location cited as NJ 897 027). Built 1836-7 by John Smith, engineer. Cast-iron pylons on masonry piers, single iron link chain on each side, iron rod suspenders and wooden truss span. Span 185 ft (56.4m). Disused.

J R Hume 1977b.

This site has only been partially upgraded for SCRAN. For further information, please consult the Architecture Catalogues for City of Aberdeen District.

{Information from RCAHMS] March 1998.

This bridge formerly carried a footpath across the River Dee, which here forms the boundary between the parishes of Peterculter (Aberdeenshire) and Banchory Devenick (Kincardineshire), to the N and S respectively.

The location assigned to this record indicates the midpoint of the structure. The available map evidence (AIB) suggests that it extended from NJ c. 89767 02675 to NJ c. 89771 02560. The N part of the bridge is depicted as decked, with only two piers (or similar structures) surviving to the S.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 12 May 2006.

Site Management (25 November 1991)

Suspension footbridge on pylons rising from unfluted cast-iron Greek Doric columns on ashlar piers. The decking and balustrading are in wood. The bridge's total length is 305ft, whilst its main span measures some 185ft. A disused abutment sits at the south shore - crossing into Aberdeenshire.

The bridge was built for the Rev. George Morrison whose parishioners at Banchory Devenick lived on the north bank but needed to travel to church on the south bank. It gained its name from its propensity to shake whenever a pedestrian crossed. (Historic Scotland).


Photographic Survey (May 1965)

Photographic survey of suspension bridge, Cults, Aberdeen in May 1965.

Publication Account (1986)

This suspension footbridge was built in 1837 by Dr George Morison, minister of Banchory-Devenick parish, for those who lived in the detached portion of the parish N of the River Dee and who attended the church and school on the S bank of the river. Although the N portion of the parish was transferred to Peterculter in 1891, the bridge was reconstructed by public subscription after flood damage in October 1920. However, the S approaches have since been destroyed, and for some years the bridge has Iain disused and under threat of demolition.

The bridge was designed by John Smith, architect (1781-1852), who had worked with Samuel Brown, the pioneer of British suspension bridges, on the Wellington Bridge, Aberdeen, in 1829-31. The Cults bridge followed the Brown suspension system in having a pair of single chains made up of wrought-iron rods and hangers joined together by iron link-pins and flat links . The main rods are 1 3/4 in (44.5mm) in diameter and range in length between 6 ft 4in (1.93m) and 6ft 8in (2.03m). Thirty-five hanger-rods and their corresponding number of cast-iron cross-beams carry the slatted wooden deck. It has a timber balustrade (dismantled, together with the decking, in 1984), and is reinforced underneath by a system of diagonally set wooden races. The pylons are in the form of hollow cast-iron columns and entablatures of Greek Doric Order. They are set on masonry piers which, like the anchor-block abutments, are of coursed granite and have a battered profile with a cordon-moulding at the head. The clear span between the pylons is 186 ft (56.69m) and the original overall length 316ft 11 in (96.60m), subsequently extended by the construction of another pier 23 ft 6 in (7.16m) to the S.

Information from ‘Monuments of Industry: An Illustrated Historical Record’, (1986).

Publication Account (2007)

St Devenick’s Bridge, Cults

This footbridge over the Dee, known locally as Morison’s Bridge or the ‘Shakkin Briggie’, is now derelict. It was built in 1837 to replace a ferry and enabled parishioners of Banchory-Devenick living north of the river to attend church. The minister, Dr G. Morison, paid for the bridge and subsequently the Kirk Session maintained it. From 1952–57 this responsibility was undertaken by Aberdeen City Council who later decided that they could not justify the expenditure and the deck was removed in the interest of public safety. The bridge was extensively repaired in 1920 following flood damage.

As built, the bridge was 305 ft long, the northern end being an unstiffened suspension span of 185 ft with a series of short beam spans at the south end. The main span is supported on masonry piers carrying twin circular

24 in. diameter cast-iron columns, surmounted by a capping beam and chain saddles about 14 ft above deck level. The chains dip 13 ft giving a dip-to-span ratio of 14. The bar-link chains are formed of two 134 in. diameter bars with short connecting links from which the suspenders and deck beamswere hung. The deck was partially stiffened by latticed timber handrails.

The bridge was designed by John Smith, Aberdeen architect. Its ironwork was influenced by the practice of Capt. Brown whom Smith had assisted with the tower design of Wellington Bridge. Smith’s expertise is evident

in the classical detailing of the columns and lintels. The contractors were John Duffus & Co., Aberdeen (ironwork) and George Donaldson and George Barclay respectively for the masonry and timberwork.

R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Highlands and Islands' with kind permission from Thomas Telford Publishers.


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