Restoring this historic General Wade-style military structure

Callander’s Landscape Partnership is working with the Drumardoch Estate to improve an expansive area of parkland on the northern edges of Callander, bringing together natural and cultural heritage restoration.

A variety of shots of the bridge undergoing restoration

As part of this project we have been working to restore an old military bridge over Leny Burn, supported by a grant from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park’s Grant Scheme. Although the bridge was still standing, it was in need of restoration to prevent further decay and eventual collapse.

What do we know about the history?

The arched stone structure is of a very similar design to the bridges – described as “Wade Type Bridges” – at the Anie (slightly further north) on the old military road built by Major Caulfield (1750-52).

Neil Cameron of Drumardoch Estate explained to us that the history of the bridge is not entirely clear. It is recorded in the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) but without a detailed description, and is mentioned as early as 1783 as part of a southern approach from ‘Trien’ to the mansion at ‘Lennie’.

We asked Neil for his interpretation of the historical documentation.

The bridge was most likely built as part of the military road by Caufield. The road presumably took a line around the foot on the hill on firm ground. At a later date the road was straightened out to the line of the existing A84 (across previously wet land). This left the old military road as the entrance road to Leny House. Then a new access drive to Leny House was built parallel to the Leny burn, leaving the original bridge isolated and used only for farm access.

A cast iron gate post and some rails remain; these would have formed part of a fence structure along the burn, and a cast iron pipe crosses the bridge which we believe was once a water supply for a fountain at Leny House.

A successful restoration

The majority of work is now complete, having started in September 2020. This included the removal of vegetation, repointing, the restoration of the stone parapets, pinning and repointing the soffit, repointing the abutments, exposing and grouting the arch stones.

Men working on the bridge restoration

The refurbishment of this historic bridge has provided Niall Provan, one of the CLP’s Rural Skills Modern Apprentices, with a unique opportunity to get involved and learn practical masonry repair skills.

I visited the site at Drumardoch during the later stages of the project, and it was great to see the progress that had been made. The restoration works carried out on the underside of the bridge interested me in particular, and I really appreciate the work that’s gone into the project on the part of the contractors. This restoration, combined with the planned dry-stone walling along the A84, will be great additions to Callander and help to further restore its extensive cultural heritage.

The-completed-bridge-after-restoration-at-sunset.

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