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Aberdeen, Union Street, Union Bridge

Road Bridge (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Aberdeen, Union Street, Union Bridge

Classification Road Bridge (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Aberdeen, Union Street Viaduct; Union Bridge And Approaches; Denburn Bridge; Denburn Valley

Canmore ID 20117

Site Number NJ90NW 208

NGR NJ 93962 06109

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NJ90NW 208 93962 06109

Union Bridge [NAT] (at NJ 9395 6106)

OS (GIS) AIB, May 2006.

(Name cited as Union Bridge and approaches, and location as NJ 940 061). Built 1800-5 (approaches) by architects David Hamilton and Charles Abercrombie; (bridge) 1802-5 by engineer Thomas Fletcher. A single segmental arch, widened in 1905-8 and 1964. One of an unusual series of bridges built to open up new areas of the city for development.

J R Hume 1977.

(Newspaper and periodical references cited).

NMRS, MS/712/83.

This bridge carries Union Street over the Denburn Valley and its railway line.

The location assigned to this record defines the apparent midpoint of the structure. The available map evidence indicates that it extends from NJ c. 93940 06097 to NJ c. 93998 06122.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 12 May 2006.

Architecture Notes



James Burn of Haddington - 1802-5.

William Byack - widened - 1805-08.

Sir William Kelly - parapets - 1805-08.

Sydney Boyce - bas reliefs - 1805-08.

Sir John Rennie - unexecuted plan -1802.

James Young, London - unexecuted plan including street - 1801.

David Hamilton - unexecuted plan of - 1800.

Thomas Telford - suggestions only partly adopted - 1802.


Aberdeen Public Library - Local Collection - lithograph by John Henderson view of Denburn Valley etc, c.1840.

Aberdeen Public Library - Local Collection - slides of Union Bridge and Bow Bridge, Union Bridge underconstruction to Telford's design, 1803-04.


NMRS Inventory of plans held in Aberdeen Art Gallery, typescript, R6 P20.


1803 finished c.1805 widened 1907.

Originally entirely a granite structure, opened the way to the expansion of Aberdeen, Westwards. Designed by James Burn of Haddington and approved by Telford. The Bridge was widened later. The cast Iron panels with seated leopards were designed by Dr William Kelly.


Plans - Plans showing proposed widening by A Marshall Mackenzie and Son. Old plans in possession, May 1941, of A G R Mackenzie, ARSA, FRIBA, 3 Bon Accord Square, Aberdeen.


Aberdeen Public Library - Reference Department


'Aberdeen In Bygone Days'.

'Milne's Aberdeen'.

'Aberdeen 50 Years Ago'.

'Munro, A.M. Article in People's Journal , 19th November 1904.


Lithogrpah by James D Harding showing the bridge during construction, 1803-05.

Photographic copy of drawing showing Telford's design and interior of one of the arches on the West abutment, 1905.

Lithograph from drawing by Sir John Carr from the roadway of the Bow Bridge, 1807.

Coloured lithograph showing small bridges over the Burn and view of Denburn and Union Bridge.


Aberdeen - Two bridges for Trustees for Making New Streets advertisement for tenders, Edinburgh Evening Courant, March 12 1801.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


Publication Account (2007)

Union Bridge, Aberdeen

This bridge was built as part of Aberdeen’s Georgian civic improvements planned by road surveyor Charles Abercrombie and others to carry the new Union Street over the Den Burn some 46 ft below. Competitive designs were obtained in ca.1800 and that of David Hamilton for a triple-span structure with a main span of 50 ft was accepted. But, after construction had commenced, with Thomas Fletcher, Rennie’s assistant on the Aberdeenshire Canal superintending the work for the city, discrepancies

in the estimate and levels were discovered and the contract was cancelled.

This situation resulted in designs for single and triplespan bridges being prepared by Rennie. Telford submitted a sketch for a 150 ft span arch, and Fletcher a plan for a 130 ft single-span arch bridge in dressed granite masonry which, with minor modification, was approved by Telford and

built from 1801–05.

The rise of the arch is 29 ft and the depth of the arch-ring is 4 ft at the haunches reducing to 3 ft at the crown. To reduce weight the bridge was built with two 12 ft transverse tunnels within each spandrel. In addition there are two semicircular blind arches of 30 ft span above the east

abutment and a single arch over the west. The bridge was 40 ft between parapets. The contractor was William Ross and the contract sum £9816.

During 1906–08 the bridge was widened by the addition on each side of a three-pinned steel arch-rib which was tied to the main structure. This work was designed by William Dyack, Burgh Surveyor, and the steelwork contractor was Messrs. Findlay & Co., Motherwell.

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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