Bernard Street Bridge
|Bernard Street Bridge|
|Location Map ( geo)|
|Crossings related to the A199|
|Musselburgh Bridge • New Tyne Bridge (East Lothian)|
The Bernard Street Bridge carries the primary A199 over the Water of Leith in Leith. The bridge appears to date from the 1960s, consisting of three shallow concrete arches across the river. The size of the structure is deceptive, with much of it hidden under the water level which is maintained at an unnaturally high level by lock gates. In the past the Water of Leith was tidal.
Looking at the bridge today, it seems hard to imagine that it carries a primary route, being lined with parked cars, and taxi ranks, where it may once have been S4. However, with a traffic signal controlled junction on the west side of the bridge, and a steady flow of traffic in each direction the bridge is still busy.
Somewhere in this area is the site of the first bridge at Leith, built by the church in 1496. The bridge was demolished in c1780, when the expansion of Leith as a Port was already underway, and the removal of the bridge presumably opened up more of the river banks for development as wharves.
Another bridge, known as the Lower Drawbridge (the Upper Drawbridge is now known as Sandport Place Bridge), stood a little to the north of the modern bridge, seemingly requiring traffic to dogleg at each end to continue along the main Bernard Street - Commercial Street thoroughfare. This bridge was demolished in 1910.
Undoubtedly there have been other bridges on this site, or near to it, in the missing years between the two bridges mentioned above. However, more research is required to discover where they were, when they were built and what they looked like. Undoubtedly most would have allowed ships or boats to pass through them.