|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Great Junction Street|
|To:||North Junction Street|
|1818, 1869, 1909|
Junction Bridge, or Great Junction Street Bridge, in Leith to the north of Edinburgh City Centre carries the A901 across the Water of Leith. For many years it also crossed the Leith Branch of Edinburgh's railway network, with a station located underneath the bridge itself, on the north bank of the river. Indeed, to the west of the bridge evidence of the old station seems to survive in the foundations of a building.
The bridge consists of one large, roughly semi-circular, stone arch over the river, and a much flatter stone arch, in a different style, over the former railway line. While it seems unlikely that the original bridge builders had any idea that a railway would one day pass along the river bank, the flatter arch may nevertheless be original, perhaps constructed as a flood arch, or simply to span the boggy river bank which was at a much lower level than the surrounding buildings.
However, it seems more likely that this flatter arch was added when the railway was constructed, it opened in 1869, to carry the road over the new trackbed. Forty years later, in 1909, the whole bridge was widened by cantilevering concrete extensions out on either side over the river. This provided a much wider roadway, and was probably needed both for the increased traffic on the road, and to provide better access to the station below. Access to the station was provided from either side of the road, with the former entrances now blocked by railings which stand out against the colourful painted concrete for the main parapet walls.
Widening over the railway arch was not quite carried out the same. The east side of the bridge had a similar concrete extension, albeit with supports touching ground rather than being purely cantilevered out from the bridge. On the west side, however, the extension appears to be a steel girder structure, again on legs, in a style used across the railway network for bridges. Why this side was handled differently is currently unknown.
Today the bridge, which was refurbished in 2012, is an interesting hotch-potch of styles. From the road it appears to almost be an art-deco era concrete bridge, but from below the complexity of its history starts to reveal itself. Yes, the concrete extensions are perhaps older than many people would guess, but the different styles of the arches will start you thinking as you pass under, and why was one section of the widening built in steel? Perhaps this question can be answered one day.