As life immediately following WW2, tried to get back to some sort of normality, the 5th District Council turned their attention to infrastructure that had been neglected in wartime years. On 29th January 1946, it was minuted, “Repairs to Milheugh Bridge – The clerk referred to the complaint about the condition of the Millheugh Bridge and reported that he had been informed that the matter was one of the Highways Dept of the County Council who had already executed some repairs there. It was agreed to write to the County Clerk, drawing his attention to the dangerous condition of the bridge and suggest that repairs be put in hand as soon as possible.”
On 28th May 1946, it was suggested that “the road approaches to Millheugh Bridge be removed from the list of Highways and the adoption of the bridge, be repaired as a right of way. The closure of the highway was refused.”
It would appear the council were concerned about the condition of the bridge, but were being blocked at the time in getting it approved for repairs. By 1948, it wasn’t just repairs on the agenda. It was reconstruction being proposed.
On 13th October 1948, a further minute recorded, “The clerk referred to the previous recommendations by the council regarding the Milheugh bridge and reported that he had been advised by the county clerk that: The reconstruction of the bridge could not be commenced until permission had been received from the Ministry of Transport. 1. The Ministry had been requested to reconsider the matter but still refused the work to proceed. 2. Steps had been taken to ensure that the old bridge had been adequately fenced.”
In 1949, Mssrs Andrew Jackson of Larkhall quoted £4,225 for the reconstruction of the bridge, a sum which today would equate to over £137,000.
ALex Rochead recently told me, “My mother and father were married in 1945 and moved into Malcolmwood around that time. I remember my father talking about having problems getting over the bridge. He could only get over on foot and even then with difficulty. As a boy going to High Blantyre Primary they were still carrying out work. I got into trouble one day for writing my name on some wet cement.”
At this point, I had to change my previous thinking, which was along the lines that the reconstruction of the bridge had happened in 1952. Various websites and books by others incorrectly mention that date, but it’s now becoming clear that the reconstruction of the bridge didn’t happen for several years after that, the locals likely putting up with the old bridge until 1957.
The Ministry must have finally given in and permitted the project to progress, for by 1957, a new Millheugh Bridge existed, the one that is currently there today at the foot of Lindsay Hill and the Pech Brae. On Saturday 5th October 1957, The Blantyre Gazette reported, “A report has been submitted to the roads committee of the county council, on the mineral position underlaying the Millheugh Bridge, High Blantyre. The Surveyor reported that it had been agreed with consultation with representatives of the National Coal Board and the Mining Engineers to defer repairs to the bridge and the re-opening of the road over the bridge for a further period of 3 months by which time it was anticipated that the movement of the bridge structure would have ceased. He stated that a further meeting of the parties concerned would be held on the site later to examine the position and decide on the remedial measures necessary.The Surveyor further reported that the National Coal Board had intimated their intention to meet the cost of the restoration of the bridge.”
This report suggests that 3 months on from October 1957, the new bridge was built at the end of 1957 perhaps early 1958. However, a photo exists of the brand new bridge in 1957, so I think the bridge was built then, with the final costs of repairs and the road itself deferred until the NCB could meet those costs and that the new structure had finally settled.