1999 Collapsing the Bridge

The David Livingstone Memorial bridge in the 1980s and 1990s had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect. This had largely been caused by a dispute between Hamilton District Council and Strathclyde Regional Council as to who should maintain and paint it. The bridge was declared unsafe due to deterioration caused by rust. 

When the day of demolition arrived in May 1999, it was found after cutting the main supports that the contractors could not pull it fully down.

The attempt to demolish the bridge was abandoned and the next day further acetylene burning tools arrived to weaken the bridge sufficiently into smaller sections for 2 heavy machines, one on either side of the river, pulling simultaneously on heavy cables attached to the main supports, to get the bridge finally down. Neil Gordon was on the scene and took this photo, the first time it’s been seen here in colour thanks to his brother Rob, sharing here.

The current bridge, a third bridge in this location, officially opened on 18th October 1999 and appears to be of a more robust design, standing on the exact same site as the 2nd bridge. Neil had the honour of being the first pedestrian to cross the current David Livingstone Bridge whilst filming its construction. There were no side rails, which looking back was a dangerous thing to do, but Neil is quoted as saying, “I found it an exhilarating experience!”

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