Victoria Bridge (Leith)
|Location Map ( geo)|
By the time that the Water of Leith reaches Victoria Bridge it is already within the original port area of Leith Harbour. The Docks here were built in the 1860s and 70s, with the Swing Bridge built as part of the same contract to connect the two sides of the harbour. It is believed that prior to work starting the shoreline, and so mouth of the river, was in this vicinity! The bridge is no longer in use, either for traffic (other than pedestrians) or opened. It has also been replaced by a new Victoria Bridge immediately downstream.
The Swing Bridge
Opened in 1874, the Victoria Swing Bridge was built to connect Victoria Dock with the Albert and Edinburgh Docks on the east side of the Leith. It originally carried both a road and railway lines, but was within the docks area so not generally accessible for public use. The bridge was hydraulically operated, with a power station located across the modern road (albeit curiously dated 1896).
The Bridge structure is a large truss, with an asymmetric arch profile which defines the cantilever span. The bridge pivoted on the east bank of the river, opening northwards with counterweights in the shorter tail end to balance the structure. The deck is of wood, presumably to minimise weight, but is now in poor condition and so only the side walkways are open to the public.
The New Bridge
Immediately downstream of the old swing bridge is the new Victoria Bridge, a fixed 4-span concrete structure. The close proximity of the two bridges means that the swing bridge can no longer be opened, although as the new bridge is fixed there would be little point as boats still wouldn't be able to pass!
The new bridge carries Ocean Drive, a new road constructed through the docks originally to provide access to the Scottish Executive offices but now connected up to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre and part of the transformation of the Leith Port area from near dereliction to a new vibrant city quarter. However, immediately to the north the docks are still very much alive, with large ships moored for maintenance, unloading or reprovisoning.