10 things you didn’t know about the Bascule Bridge
Friday 3rd September, 2021
Now that you’ve read all about the history of Renfrew’s Bascule Bridge with this first blog, find out some facts you didn’t know about the Grade A listed structure.
Did you know…
The Scherzer style Bascule Bridge in Renfrew is the only surviving rolling lift bridge in Scotland.
‘Bascule’ is French for a seesaw. This type of bridge provides roadway while allowing a ship to pass through when needed. Tower Bridge in London is one of the best known examples of a Bascule bridge.
When the bridge opens, it reaches skyward almost 120 feet above the ground.
The Bascule Bridge became Category A listed in December 1994.
Construction for the new bridge broadened the White Cart’s channel at the bridges from 48 to 90 feet. Previously, the narrow river had limited the size of craft that could be constructed in local shipbuilding yards.
The Bascule Bridge was designed and built by Sir William Arrol & Co., who also built some other famous bridges around the UK including the Forth and Tay rail bridges, and Tower Bridge in London. The founder, Sir William Arrol, was born in Houston in 1839 and his father was a cotton spinner.
In the 1830s, while steam navigation was still in its early days, a passenger steamer called ‘The Cupid’ travelled down the Cart and Clyde as far as Rothesay, taking 12 hours there and back. It was nicknamed ‘The Stupid’, on account of its tendency to run into sandbanks.
In November 1880, a horse and wagon load of straw were completely blown off a previous bridge into the river. The driver escaped just in time and received damages of £105.
In the 1980s, it was reported that an eccentric American oil tycoon wanted to buy the Bascule Bridge and even visited the structure in an 18-foot black limousine.
When the bridge opened, it cost two shillings and sixpence for vessels to pass under the bridge between 6am and 6pm, and this was to be paid both inwards and outwards.