“The Marriage of the Parishes”

 Yesterday afternoon witnessed the formal completion of another link between the North and South sides of the Dee, when MAryculter Bridge, near Milltimber, was opened for public traffic by Mrs Ogston of Ardoe. Beautifully situated districts on both banks of the river have thus been brought within easy reach of each other, and, while lovers of nature will find a new source of pleasure, the residents, who are mostly agriculturists, will  obtain a ready means of conveying their goods to market which they have long desired. Thus the commercial and picturesque are promoted in a happy degree; and the completion of the bridge, which unites those advantages, was looked forward to with as much interest in the city as in the immediate neighbourhood of the erection.  Yesterday’s ceremony therefore was largely attended, the invited company included the Town Council of Aberdeen, the County Councils of Aberdeen and Kincardine, the directors of the Great North of Scotland Railway Company, and a numerous gathering of ladies and gentlemen connected with town and country. Before describing the interesting ceremony, we give a few notes about the bridge and the accesses.



Graceful in design and elegant in proportions, the bridge is of five spans – one central span of 94ft clear waterway, and two masonry side arches of 15ft span, giving in all a clear waterway of 232ft. there are tow piers in the river, built of masonry, and founded at a depth of 9ft below the bottom of the river on a bed of Porland cement concrete 3ft thick and 11ft wide, the masonry being built dry inside temporary cofferdams. The piers are provided with outwatres on both uup and down stream ends, and are surmounted by dress granite pilasters with rustic panels. The north and south side piers are founded similarly at a slightly less depth under the ground than the others, and the side arches and wing walls are built dry. The central girder is of half-parabolic or hog-backed type, 100 feet long, 9 feet deep at the centre, and 5 feet 5 inches at the end – with N. bracing and counter N. bracing in the central bays. The side girders are parallel N. braced, each 60feet long and 5 feet 6 inches deep, and counter braced similarly to the central girder. The roadway has a total width of 20 feet between the girders, a concrete footpath, 3 feet wide on the east side, leaving 17 feet of causewayed carriageway. The roadway is carried on cambered trough flooring, the troughs being filled with concrete, on the top of which the granite cubes are set and run in with asphalt. Expansion has been allowed for by placing the central girders on cast steel rocker bearings, and the side girders on cast iron sliding and bed plates. The bridge has been designed for a uniformly distributed live load of 112lbs. per square foot, and for the heaviest traction engine and steam roller traffic. The maximum working stress for the steel in tension is 6 ½ tons per square inch on the net area, and 5 tons per square inch in the gross area of compression members, the maximum working stresses being made to vary with th range of stress in the members in each case.


The access on the north side extends from the main north road, the old approach to Milltimber Station being utilised for a distance of 130 yards. At that point, the new access commences, and turning to the right through a field on the farm of Milltimber  it proceeds by an easy curve, in a cutting about 16 feet at its deepest part to the bridge under the Deeside Railway, which has been widened to 20 feet between the abutments. Beyond this the farm road has been widened and formed for a distance of 220 yards, after which the road proceeds in a straight line across the fields on the late Sir R. W. Duff’s Culter estate to the new bridge. A culvert has been formed in a hollow portion of the filed to allow any water which might during floods find its way over or thorugh the flood bakns into the fileds to drains, and join the river further downstream. Crossing the bridge, the road on the Kincardine side runs parallel to the boundary wall, between the estates of Kincausie and Maryculter, for a distance of 200 yards, and joins the south Deeside Road at a point about 100 yards east of the Mill Inn. The land for this purpose, it may be mentioned, has been given free by the proprietor of Maryculter, Mr Cosmo Duff Gordon.


The contracts were entered into on June 8, 1894 and a start was made with the work in the following month. During the winter the work was considerably retarded by the spates and floods in the river, but since then it has been pushed rapidly forward, and with a despatch which reflects credit on the engineer, Mr James Barron, C.E. and the contractors, Mr Edgar Gauld, Aberdeen , who constructed the bridge, and Mr David Porter, Aberdeen, who made the roads and accesses.

Mr Alex. Kidd, Aberdeen, has acted as inspector of works since the commencement, and the steel work has been inspected by Mr David Polson, Aberdeen.


The committee, who have steadily presented the work they took in hand to see the bridge erected, were: - Messrs A.M. Ogston of Ardoe, the late F.H. Forbes Irvine of Drum, A.J. Kinloch, of Altries; William Irvine Fortescue of Kincausie; W. Macintosh, Marybank; G.C. Leslie, Cults; W. Griffiths, Ardbeck; Alexander Skene, of Avondow; Archibald McKenzie, Dunmail; Dr Rainnie, Peterculter; Messrs Duncan Shepherd, Millbank; Charles Shaw, Maidenfold; John Bisset, Mill of Crynoch; T. King, Burnside; Cosmo Duff Gordon of Maryculter; John Moir, Milltimber; John A. Henderson, Cults. Mr Ogston was appointed chairman, and Mr Macintosh secretary and treasurer.


The opening ceremony commenced about four o’clock, by which hour the comanpy had assembled at the south side end of the bridge. Here was erected a triumphal arch of elegant design and of quite a substantial character. In style it was Gothic, and the height from the ground to the apex was 16 feet, the width being the same. The arch was surmounted by an ornamental pediment, and flanked by two castellated turrets rising to a height of about 30 feet, and each terminated by a flag. On the top of the arch were a shield and a trophy of flags. The whole erection was elaborately decorated with evergreens, the work of the gardeners at Ardoe, Marybank, Kincausie, and Maryculter. The artistic appearance of the structure was heightened by panels of crimson cloth placed on the flanking turrets and over the arch. The whole design was most pleasing and effective, and reflected great credit on all who had a hand in its conception and execution. The bridge was also gaily bedecked with flags, while streamers stretched alond the accesses for a considerable distance. The weather was beautiful, and the picturesque surroundings lent brilliancy  to the scene. Near the south end of the bridge an open space was reserved, and here a scarlet ribbon stretched from one side of the structure to the other. On her arrival, Mrs Ogston was met by Mr Macintosh of Marybak, and was conducted by him to the open space on the bridge where the members of the Bridge Committee were assembled. Mrs Ogston was here presented by Master Williamson, son of Dr Williamson, with a handsome bouquet. This graceful little not finished, Mr Macintosh introduced Mrs Ogston to the memebrs of the committee, after which she undid the clasp that joined the ribbon, and, amid cheers, said- I have much pleasure in declaring the bridge open.

Mr Barron C.E., then stepped forward, and presented Mrs Ogston wth the silver buckle which tied the ends of the ribbon. The buckle, which was a plain but handsome souvenir, bore the following inscription:-

“Presented to Mrs A. M. Ogston of Ardoe by James Barron, C.E., on the occasion of her opening the Maryculter Bridge, 13th September, 1895.”. At this point the company was photographed by Mr Wilson. It should be mentioned that the flags and marquee were supplied by Messrs Shirras, Schoolhill.


The subsequent proceedings took the form of an “At Home”, in a fine marquee erected on the north side, where refreshments were served under the superintendence of Mr Mollison of the Bon-Accord Hotel, who was the caterer. Mr Ogston of Ardoe presided.

Mr Macintosh intimated apologies from the following friends and wellwishers:- The Right Hon., the Marquis of Huntly, Sir John clark, Bart. Of Tillypronie, Sir Wm. Henderson of Devanah, Sir William Cunliffe Brooks of Glen Tanar, Mr A.M. Gordon of Newton, convener of Aberdeenshire; Mr Wm. Ferguson of Kinmundy, chairman of Great North Railway; Mr Duff of Hatton, Rev. canon Chisholm of Blairs, Mr Lumsden of Balmedie, Baillie Mearns, Baillie Murray, Mr Esslemont, Aberdeen; Mr Andrew Ruxton, Ellon; Mr D McHardy of Cranford; Mr Wm. Falconer of Cairntoul, Mr Mitchell, Gallaton; Mr James Mowatt, Stonehaven; ex-provost Williamson, Banff; Mr J. A. Henderson, Cults; Mr C.B. Davidson, advocate, Aberdeen; Mr James Black of Sheriffston, mr A.W. Kinnear, Stonehaven; Mr Alex. Webster, Edgehill; Mr Wm. Tait, Inverurie; Mr John Charles, Inverurie; Mr Porteous of Lauriston, Mr Wm. Sangster, Aberdeen; Mr Wm. Boyd, Peterhead; Mr James Grant, Glen Grant; Mr Wm. Murison, county clerk; Mr George Leslie, Aberdeen; Mr John Cook, banker; Mr D.M.A. Chalmers, advocate; Mr T. Youngson, advocate; Mr and Mrs Gavin Hadden of Dalmuinzie; Mr George Philips, Aberdeen; Mr James Collie, advocate; Dr Profeit, Balmoral; Mr Thomas Wilsone, solicitor; Mr Gordon, Ballater and Essex ( a generous donor to the fund); Mr James Fraser, George Street, Aberdeen; Mr William Moffatt, general manager, G.N.S.R; Mr Robert Gerard, Aberdeen; and Mr Menzies, of Messrs James Walker & Company. Mr Macintosh said that it would interest the company if time permitted of his reading the many kind words which those who had sent apologies had written: three of the letter-writers, however, sent something more substantial than words- something that would rejoice the heart of their treasurer. (Applause.) Canon Chisholm, Blairs, sent a nice letter, and concluded by asking their acceptance of a cheque for five guineas. (Applause.) Mr James Collie, advocate, sent a cheque for £5 as an extra subscription. (Applause.) Mr Begg of Inchgarth also sent an encouraging letter, enclosing £5 10s. (applause.) This , added Mr Macintosh, was very gratifying, and would greatly encourage them in their further endeavours, to clear the bridge of debt. (Applause.)

The Chairman then gave the toast of the “Queen” which was enthusiastically pledged.

He next proposed the “health of the Prince and Princess of Wales and other Members of the Royal Family.” In doing so, he said he thought the Prince of Wales had done his best for the good of the nation. He thought they had only to look at his recent visit to Russia, and consider what he had accomplished for peace and good feeling there, to convice them of his good tact and good sense. (Applause.)

Mr Macintosh then proposed the health of Mrs Ogston of Ardoe. If they had not known, he said, that Mrs Ogston was a grandmamma, they would have been apt to fancy that she was the brode of that day. For they had been at a marriage ceremony- Peterculter had married Maryculter. (Laughter.) He asked then to drink long life, health and happiness to Mrs Ogston, who had so gracefully performed the opening ceremony. (Applause.)

Mr Ogston, in returning thanks on behalf of his wife, said he was sure that Mrs ogston was very sensible of the honour done her by the committee in asking her to take so rominenta part in the proceedings. Mrs Ogston, like all those in the neighbourhood, had takena deep interest in the bridge, but after playing so important a part in connection with it, she would have a particular affection for it during the rest of her days. (Applause.) He thought they had cause for rejoicing that the bridge had become an actual fact. They had had many difficulties to contend woth – first with the financial matters, and then with the floods and storms after the work was commenced.  The fgreatest flood took place during the erection of the bridge which had occurred for many years; and then last winter they had to endure the most severe weather that had been experienced within the memory of the oldest inhabitants. Now, however, the bridge, which was substantially built, would stand against all the elements that could come against it. The structure had been a long felt want in the neighbourhood. The question had been long discussed. Schemes had been suggested and plans had been prepared, but they all vanished into thin air until a leading spirit arose in the shape of Mr Macintosh of Marybank, who entered into the matter with great energy, and resolved that there should be a bridge, or that he would die in the attempt. (Laughter and applause.) Well, Mr Macintosh was not dead yet, although he was nearly killed over the matter. (Laughter.) There was very much urgency for the bridge in that neighbourhood. As they were aware, there was previously no bridge between the Old Bridge of Dee and the Bridge of Potarch, a distance of nearly twenty miles. When they considered that they  lived in a highly populous and highly cultivated country and were within seven miles of Aberdeen, they would agree with him that it was high time the bridge was built. (Applause.) The old boat and ferry served its day and generation, but the requirements of the district had outgrown the ferry traffic, and now it would be found that the bridge would be a necessity of the time, and would develop the trade between the districts on each side of the river. To the people of Aberdeen it would provide an attraction, seeing that it connected two favourite roads, one on the north and the other on the south side of the Dee. To the railway company, if it di not tap a mine of gold, it would at least tapa silver mine- (Laughter.) – and the county councils of the adjoining counties, he thought, were getting a very handsome gift in having the bridge handed over to them on the olny condition that they should keep it in repair, and £1 a year he thought would do that. Mr Macintosh  had all the credit of the movement; he had taken all the labour of it on his own shoulders. There had been a proposal that they should name the bridge after him. (Applausem and “No,no” fromm Mr Macintosh). Their friend, however, was a modest man, and did not wish the structure to be named after him. However, by whatever name it might be called, it would always remain, he supposed, the Maryculter Bridge. (Applause.)

Mr A.I. Fortescue of Kincausie, then proposed the sentiment of “The Bridge and its Promoters.” He had no doubt the bridge would be of great service to Peterculter and Maryculter, and he hoped it would be the means of bringing in a good deal more money to the Deesidde railway, as the directors of that company had contributed handsomely to the funds. (Applause.) As to the people of Aberden many of them had also subscribed, and he was sure when they took a drive along one side of the river and down the other they would come to the conclusion that the district traversed was one of the prettiest within easy distance of the Granite City. (Applause.)  He was glad to see that their secretary had recovdered from his illness, and was able to be with them that day. If it had not been for Mr Macintosh’s perseverance in asking for subscriptions, he did not think the large sum they had would have been got. (Hear, hear and applause.) He hoped they would join with him in drinking health and prosperity to the Maryculter bridge, and to the promoters, who had spared neither time nor trouble in having it erected. Might it long withstand the storms and floods of the Dee. (Applause.) He begged to couple the toast with the name of Mr Macintosh.

The toast having been pledged with great enthusiasm,

Mr Willkiam Macintosh said- Mr Chairman, Mr Fortescue, ladies and gentlemen, - I understand that a husband usually responds to the toast of his wife’s health, so I have been asked to reply to this one – (laughter and applause)- which Mr Fortescue has so kindly proposed. I fancy the committee must look on the bridge as a sort of halfmeet or better half of mine, and it being the silent partner, have asked me to do the speaking. I think they looked upon this as a sort of marriage ceremony, and so I was asked to respond to the health of the bride. (Laughter and applause.) Peterculter and Maryculter- Peter and Mary – have this day been united- united, if not in the holy bonds of matrimony, at least in those of mild steel- (laughter)- and, I trust, in the bonds of good fellowship and helpfulness. And, if the wooiong has been somewhat unusual, seeing it was Mary who made up to Peter – not he to Mary – I hop, as the reign of the 2new woman” is said to be approaching, this slight peculiarity may not mar either their happiness or usefulness.(Applause.) The need of a bridge to connect the two counties has been long felt and long talked over. We have heard of various schemes for meeting the difficulty – the large sums offered by individuals towards the cost; but still it was all talk, and the bridge was not. Sad stories have reached us of serious accidents, while a rushing river prevented a doctor being got for many hours; of sudden domestic events coming on, when a doctor was needed and no doctor could be got; of trials, many and varied, caused by Peter and Mary perversely remaining single. Well, some people are fond of match making. Here was a worthy couple formed by nature for mutual happiness. Why not try and open their eyes to each other’s charms and bring them together? No matter how or by whom, a public meeting wascalled and met; speeches were delivered and resolutions passed; a  committee was appointed, and the action of that committee reminds us of a Methodist local preacher who resolved that he would preach a sermon, and took for his text – “These men who have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” We wil take the sermon for granted, but his divisions were – First, the world is wrong side out; second, it must be put right; third, and we’re the boys to do it. (Laughter.) Your committee decided- First, a bridge is desirable and necessary; second, it must be got; third, and we’re the boys to do it. (Laughter and applause.)  They felt the importance of the remit made to them, and they also felt that “success is secure unless energy fails.” The battle of the sites had to be fought. The committee felt that the bridge ought to be where it would be the greatest good to the greatest number. They took the best advice they could get, and among others consulted the lat Colonel Ramsay, who had large experience of roads, both iron and macadam. His opinion was that it should be somewhere near Milltimber, to tap the cross roads of both counties. The site being fixed, subscriptions were invited, and our chairman of today headed the list, how handsomely we all know. (applause.) An engineer was selected. Plans were considered, and those of the handsome structure which has this day been so happily opened were decided on. Appeal after appeal was made for money, handsomely responded to by the city of Aberdeen, by the County Council of Aberdeen, also by that of Kincardine, and last, but not least, by the Great North of Scotland Railway. By weary and patient pegging, subscriptions flowed in – generous and handsome- till your committee felt justified in accepting contracts for the work. I am not going to detail the disappointments and the worry that have been involved, but rather wish to look at the sunny side, and refer to the handsome wedding presents of the public bodies and of the private donors, and ask – Are not Peter and Mary lucky? (Applause.)  As to the structure itself, I hope you like it. I hope and expect it will be a blessing to posterity long after its promoters are forgotten. I almost feel that we might adopt the words of our national poet, and say about the bridge and its engineer:-

He’ll be a credit to us a’

We’ll a’ be proud o’ Robin.

A word as to the cost and  financial position. The cost will be not less than £5600. If all promises are fulfilled we will have raised a little over £5000, leaving £600 still to be provided. I hate debts, and a treasurer in debt is in a ppitiful position. But I am not going to beg or make any appeal today. lWe have invited you here as the guests of the Bridge Committee, because we are grateful to you, and I n=most heartily thank all and everyone who has helped us in this undertaking, and wish the vride of today long life and usefulness . (Applause.) Some people think this bridge may prevent another being erected when it is needed at Cults. Peter and Mary are happily married this day. It is unnatural to expect that, if the chief magistrate of Cults would rise to the occasion, the baby might land at Cults! (Laughter and applause.) Before closing, as treasurer to this undertaking, I would fair say to the friends of the scheme now assembled, in the words of Joseph in praise to the chief butler of Pharoah- “But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, and bring me out of this place”! (Laughter and applause.)

Mr Macintosh afterwards gave “The Health of the Subscribers,” who had helped them so much with the enterprise. He trusted that ever one of them might be healthier and wealthier, for he was sure they would be happier. (Applause.)


Baillie Gray,in proposing “The Health of Aberdeen and Kincardine County Councils”, said they all knew how carefully and efficiently these bodies looked after the interests of the community, not withstanding the various and difficult duties they had to perform. (Applause.) He xoupled the toast with the names of the conveners of the respective  counties. (Applause.)

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