The King officially opened Aberdeenshire Council’s new £3.8 million Garnshiel Jubilee Bridge on Royal Deeside earlier today.
Replacing the old existing bridge after 271 years, the new structure has been named to commemorate the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 – the year in which construction began.
North-east musician Jonny Hardie wrote a piece especially for the opening titled “The Lonach Highlanders’ welcome to the Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge”, which was performed by Lonach Pipe Band.
The King, who is still at Balmoral Castle for his summer stay, unveiled a commemorative plaque before meeting with those involved in the design and construction of the new bridge.
The existing Grade A-listed structure – built in the mid-1700s – was no longer suitable for modern day traffic due to the ever-increasing volumes of vehicles and larger, heavier loads using the the bridge, which resulted in significant damage over the years.
Despite it no longer being open to vehicles, the “faithful old servant” will be retained for use by pedestrians and cyclists.
Its design responds to three key considerations, namely; the river flood levels, the low alignment of the highway and the desire to create a sculptural yet robust form.
It has been built using locally sourced granite, which responds to the natural formation of the glen, as well as complementing the 18th century structure.
Aberdeenshire Provost Judy Whyte said: “We were honoured to have His Majesty The King join us today to formally open the new Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge.
“There is no doubt that this new bridge will provide a far better and safer route both for local residents and the many thousands of visitors who use this route each year.
“This new crossing will take the strain of traffic away from the original Gairnshiel Bridge and will enable walkers and cyclists to continue to enjoy a journey over this historic structure for many years to come.”
‘Very impressed by the design of the structure’
Aberdeenshire Council leader Gillian Owen added: “The formal opening of the Gairnshiel Jubilee Bridge is the culmination of seven years hard work, not only by our own officers and services, but by all the architects, designers and engineers contracted to undertake this massive feat of engineering.
“I am very impressed by the design of the structure and the quality of workmanship throughout the project, which will allow motorists and other road users to enjoy the many delights the area has to offer.”