Bridging the Leithen
The first Leithen Bridge was built in 1775 during the construction of the new turnpike road linking Peebles to Galashiels (now the A72). This was an arched stone bridge, narrow by today’s standards, but perfectly adequate for the horse-drawn coach and cart traffic of the 18th century. This bridge was replaced in the 1860s with a level, wider stone-built structure flanked by solid walls and quite similar in appearance to the present bridge.
The bridge carriageway was widened in 1914 and the solid walls were replaced with attractive balustrade parapets moulded and manufactured at Grandison’s of Peebles at a cost of £450. The parapet tops were later surmounted with wrought iron lamps, three to each side.
The present concrete bridge was constructed in 1991 and despite local efforts to keep the balustrades these were deemed too weak to withstand the impact of crashing vehicles. Fortunately, the concrete parapets were covered in natural stone cladding but the balusters, which allowed small children a view of the Leithen flowing below, are much missed. The old lamps were mounted on the new solid parapet walls but the metal deterioration led to their later replacement with smart new ones.