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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


North Bridge.] CONTRACT FOR BUILDING THE NORTH BRIDGE. 337 of the old loch, to the excavation where the stone lay, As they proceeded a ?band of the fraternity,? says the Edinburgh Museunr for 1763, ? I accompanied with French horns and other instrumental music, sung several fine airs, marches, &c. The Grand-Master, surrounded by about 600 brethren, and in view of an infinite crowd of spectators, after having applied severally the square, the plumb, level, compass, and the mallet, and used other ceremonies and symbols common .on such occasions, laid the stone, amid the acclamation and applause of all present.? There were placed in the cavity of the stone three medals struck for the occasion. On one was an elevation of the intended bridge, on another a profile of George 111. The last one bore a repetition of the inscription, which is cut on the stone in large capital letters. By five o?clock the ceremony was over, and the brethren marched in procession to the Assembly Hall, where they passed the evening ?with that social cheerfulness for which the society is so eminently distinguished.? Still the bridge was not proceeded with, and there would seem to have been some indecision as to who was to be the architect thereof, as in the Edinburgh Advertiser of 19th February, 1765, we read that ?the committee appointed to judge of the several plans given in for erecting a bridge over the North Loch, determined in favour of No. 5, This turns out to be the performance of Mr. David Henderson, mason and architect at Sauchie, near Alloa, who lately published proposals for printing a book of architecture. On account of his plan he is entitled to the reward of thirty guineas.? Henderson?s design, however, was not adopted. It had been forwarded in consequence of the following advertisement, which appeared in the Scottish papers in the January of that year :- ?The Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Tom Council of Edinburgh, being sensible of the great advantage which will accrue to this city and to the public in general from having a proper communication befweera fke High Street andthe fildi on the nmth, have unanimously resolved to follow out the design of making one, and have appointed a committee of their number for carrying the scheme into execution. ? This public notice is therefore made, inviting all architects and others to give in plans and elevations for making a communication, by bridge or otAm>e, from the Cap-and- Feather Close, in a straight line to the o?posite side, leading to the Multer?s Hill, with an equal declivity of one foot in eighteen to one in seventeen. Such persons as intend to give in plans and elevations must send them sealed, addressed to the Lord Provost, to the care of Mr. James Tait, or Mr. Alexander Duncan, Depute Town Clerks, at the Council Chamber, on or before the first day of February next. Within the plan, upon a separate piece of paper, sealed up, 43 the person offering the plan will write his name, the seal of which paper is not to be broke [sic] up, unless the plan it belongs to is approven. ? The person whose plan is approved of will receive thirty guineas, or a medal of that value. . . . . It is expected that the plans to be given in will be done in such a manner as that estimates of expense may be made from them ; and it is required that the breadth of the bridge betwixt the parapets be 40 feet? (Editzburgh Advn?isn; voL iii. p. 22). On the 1st of August, 1765, the contract for the erection of the bridge was signed, the parties being the magistrates of Edinburgh on the one hand, and on the other William Mylne, architect, descendant of the hereditary Master Masons of Scotland; and brother of Robert Mylne. The work was to ?be completed by Martinmas, 1769, and to be upheld for ten years, for the sum of LIO, 140 ; but of the great sum which it is said to have cost, viz.; ~ ~ 8 , 0 0 0 , after selling the areas, on the east, west, and at the south end, which drew about x3,000, there remained xz5,ooo of nett expenditure. By the contract, the bridge was to consist of five arches, three of 27 feet span, and two of 20 each ; the four piers to be 13 feet 6 inches thick in the body. There were to be two abutments, 8 feet thick, with wing walls and parapets ; those on the west to terminate at hfylne?s Square ; those on the east to be carried no farther than Shearer?s Land. The length from the north to the south pedestal on the west side to be 1,134 feet, with 40 feet between the parapets; but 50 to be between them from the north end of the south abutment to the north end of Mylne?s Square, This difference is apparent on the bridge to the present day. ?The earth to be dug out at the charge of Mr. hiylne, and to be by him moved to such places as shall be necessary to fill up any part of the spaces over the arches. The foundations to be sunk to the rock, or natural earth, which has never been moved ; or if the natural foundation be bad, it is to be.properly assisted and made good by art.? So actively and diligently did Mr. Mylne set about his work, that by the midsunimer of 1769 the arches were all completed, the keystone of the first of the three larger ones ?was struck on Saturday, May 11, 1768.? . An unforeseen difficulty occurred, however, in the course of the work. As the north part of the hill on which the old city stands is extremely steep, it had been found convenient in early times to throw the earth dug from the foundations of the ancient wynds and closes towards the North Loch ; thus the whole mass then consisted almost entirely of travelled earth. Unaware of. this, to some extent, Mylne ceased to dig at a place where there were no
Volume 2 Page 337
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