The Bridge

 

Built to replace the now destroyed “swing bridge” Dunans Bridge was completed in 1815, and predates the 1864 elaboration of Dunans House by Kerr into a Franco-Baronial “castle”. The bridge is the centrepiece of several listed and listable buildings around Dunans House including the Fletcher Mausoleum (C-listed), Dunans Sawmill and Dunans Lodge.

The bridge fulfills three significant functions: the prosaic by crossing the Caol Ghleann, tributary to the Ruel; the monumental by celebrating Wellington’s victory at Waterloo of 1812; and the picturesque by providing a singularly striking approach to the house itself. But it was not for any of these that it was A-listed in 1971: as a three-arch rubble-built bridge designed by Thomas Telford it is nationally, if not internationally important. Evidently, there is not another bridge like it, and although it is of a kind often constructed by Telford, the three arches, gargoyles and eight hexagonal piers, as well as its sheer height 16 metres (or 50 feet), make it unique.

So what does sole ownership of such an important bridge mean? Often simply that Sadie and I get to meet professionals at the top of their discipline. One such is Ted Ruddock, the pre-eminent expert on rubble-built bridges in Europe, who is our consulting engineer and whose survey in 2003 is the foundation of our conservation programme for the bridge.

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