Project profile: Boleside Footbridge
A rare survivor from the heyday of the Edinburgh and Hawick Railway, this listed footbridge was closed for public use following safety concerns. A brighter future awaits it, thanks to our restoration work.
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Location: Near Galashiels in the Scottish Borders
Contractor: Balfour Beatty
Status: Open to the public
What is the project?
The local authority closed the former railway structure in early 2020 following safety concerns for its use. The bridge is now one of 574 Historical Railways Estate structures that we care for in Scotland on behalf of the Department for Transport.
(Gate to footbridge closed and in need of some attention)
Together with the council and our contractor Balfour Beatty, we developed a plan to repair the Category C listed structure to its former glory.
Many parts of the footbridge were severely corroded, so firstly we needed to remove all the original paint. Victorian paint contained high levels of lead, so we’ve covered the bridge to protect passers-by and the surrounding environment from contamination. We’re also:
- replacing heavily corroded steel floor plates with a safer, anti-slip steel tread
- replacing the corroded sections of the bridge with a low-carbon steel for high long-term strength
- painting the bridge in a colour that matches the original
(Colleagues wearing protective clothing to remove lead paint and corrosion)
(Significant section loss to southwest end of bottom chord and bearing plate)
(View of newly repainted footbridge looking south, we’ve also installed new central deck plates)
What stage is it at?
Work has finished and the footbridge is open for public use.
The railway opened in 1849 and formed the first part of the line from Edinburgh to Carlisle. Through Galashiels the line became known as the Waverley Route to reflect the enormous popularity at the time of Sir Walter Scott’s novels. In 1856 this branch line, the Selkirk and Galashiels Railway, opened to Selkirk.
This ornate and elegant steel footbridge was most likely installed to improve access from the developing areas of housing in the area. The Selkirk line was closed to passenger transport in 1951 though the footbridge has remained in use and gained in popularity with the increase in housing east of Abbotsford Road.
"This cherished footbridge has a rich history, and we are committed to restoring it for safe use by the public again. Our repair work will not only extend its life but secure this listed structure’s long-term future. The footbridge was used as part of a popular riverside walk, and we hope people will get to enjoy those walks again in time for Christmas."HRE Engineer Colin McNicol