The Mill Suspension Bridge

suspensionbridge1920A wonderful old postcard of Low Blantyre’s “Pey Brig” or “Toll Bridge” and even known as the “Swing Brig”. The iron bridge spanned between Bothwell and Blantyre at the site of the old Mills on the banks of the River Clyde. Don’t let others ever tell you there were just 2 toll booths in Blantyre! There were three and this one was very much located on the bridge taxing those wishing to enter Blantyre itself. Built by Messers Henry Monteith & Co (the proprietors of the Blantyre Works Mills), it first opened in Summer 1852. Prior to this, workers to the mills were ferried in small boats. When the river was in spate the workers braved the crossing only if the sluice gates at the mill diverted many of the turbulent currents.

The opening toll was a halfpenny, although this increased to a penny by the 1900s. This permitted one pedestrian to cross the 73m expanse. The bridge was famously the last toll bridge built in all of Scotland until the Construction of the Forth Road Bridge in 1964.  A worker owned token was provided to the mill workers and later to miners to allow them cheaper crossing. If you wanted to cross with a barrow, it was twice as much! Bothwell grocers wishing to sell produce to the Mill workers would often pay a 4d weekly ticket, a concept still in use on modern bridges today. These could be bought from Jock mcBain at Waterloo Row prior to 1928. It is widely reported that children would crawl in the voids below the bridge to bypass the toll booth, which was apparently a dangerous thing to do. A small drafty and cold toolbooth was located on the Blantyre end of the bridge to house the toll keeper. Several toll keepers worked in this booth through the years until the bridge was demolished in 1949. The last long standng toll keeper was Mr Peter Sharp only replaced just in the middle of 1948 by Walter, the 80 year old who grabbed the title of being the very last keeper. A new modern “David Livingstone” bridge opened in it’s place in 1952, which wasn’t of the best construction. Indeed, so many shortcuts were taken on it’s construction, that by the 1990’s it was deemed unsafe. The bridge was demolished in May 1999 and was eventually replaced by the current bridge just before the turn of the Millennium on 18th October 1999.

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