Refurbishment and repairs complete on Deeside's "Royal Bridge" following Storm Frank damage

After 13 weeks of painstaking work, a popular and well used bridge on Royal Deeside has been brought back to its former glory after it took a battering during Storm Frank in 2015.

The B-listed Dee Bridge at Ballater, connecting the community to the B976 South Deeside Road, was bombarded with debris including tree trunks and caravans washed away in the storm spate.

Images of static caravans striking the structure were well used in national media at the time, as Ballater was one among the area’s worst affected communities.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Bridges Team used civil engineering contractor Coffey Construction Ltd to carry out the work throughout the summer to bring it back to its former glory and thanks the local community for its patience throughout the project.

An encapsulated access scaffold has covered the bridge for some time, allowing proper cleaning of the structure as part of its refurbishment, important for its longevity.

Loose and decayed mortar was removed from the masonry before it was repointed, and the bridge’s deck has been fully resurfaced.

The cost of the refurbishment is around £450,000, helping to secure this important bridge for future generations.

The project had to take place in the summer, not only because lower water levels make access easier, but also because it means minimal disruption to the salmon in the River Dee below.

Clearly this isn’t ideal for the local tourist industry, or locals looking to access Glen Muick, but the bridge repairs mean it has been strengthened and improved, hopefully minimising closures in future.

Chair of the Marr Area Committee, Moira Ingleby, said: “While there’s clearly been some inconvenience around the bridge while this work has taken place I think people have appreciated the fact it is happening and are glad to see it back in full use and looking so good.

“I’m well aware this is a very well used bridge which is important for tourism and recreation, as well as linking our communities, and I hope such an extensive refurbishment will see its future secured, with minimal intervention and disruption in coming years.”

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Peter Argyle, said: “Clearly it’s been some time since the initial damage was sustained, but I know engineers have been working through a backlog of damage to structures and roads since Storm Frank, giving priority to those at greatest risk.
 
“As a local councillor I am delighted to see the bridge looking so good. The work done has given us a strengthened and handsome crossing which should serve the local community for many years to come.”

The bridge was opened in 1885 by Queen Victoria who stated that that it should be called “The Royal Bridge”. The current bridge is the fourth iteration at this important crossing point.

The first bridge replaced a ferry and was completed in 1783, before its destruction by flood in 1799. The second bridge was completed in 1809 and was again destroyed by flood waters in the famous Muckle Spate of 1829.

The third bridge was made of timber and lasted from 1834 to 1885, when it was dismantled to allow construction of the current “Royal Bridge”.