Royal opening for refurbished footbridge as HRH The Princess Royal spends day in Tain
HRH the Princess Royal visited Tain today (Thursday 21 July) and her first role of the day was to unveil a plaque and officially open the refurbished Alexander Bridge which has been restored to it’s former glory.
The B listed suspension footbridge was built in 1902 of metal and timber and is an important, well used bridge which provides a crossing of the River Tain at the junction of three popular footpaths, providing walkers access to the foreshore and area east of the town.
The bridge had to close in 2011 due to severe corrosion and the number of walkers in the area visibly declined. Strengthening work carried out allowed it to re-opened on a medium term basis but to secure its future a full renovation was required.
A funding package was put in place with Tain Common Good fund contributing £176,670 and further funding coming from Historic Scotland (£98,895); Highland Council’s Capital Discretionary Fund (£76,406); Highland Council Ward Discretionary Budget (£11,935); and Tain Community Council (£5,000).
Maclean & Speirs were awarded the contract and started on site last year with engineering company Allen Gordon’s of Inverness overseeing the detailed works. The deck of the bridge and its supporting hangers were taken down and removed for cleaning and restoration after which the bridge towers were also thoroughly refurbished.
Councillor, Alistair Rhind said: “The bridge is a real Tain landmark so we are delighted that it has been restored and now can enjoy a new lease of life.
Cllr Fiona Robinson added: “This bridge is important to locals and visitors so when it became dangerous and we had to close it there was a noticeable impact and we saw less people enjoying the outdoors, especially dog walkers. Now fully restored I’m sure many more people will come to enjoy the routes and spend time in this special area.”
After opening the bridge HRH had the chance to view an exhibition showing images of the original structure and photos of the various stages of the refurbishment and chatted with the team who carried out the work. She then met and spent time while at the park with representatives from Tain Museum, Tain Task Force and Tain Community Council before speaking to young people from the Youth Café and members from the local Brownies, Rainbows and Explorer Scout groups.
Next stop was a visit to the Glassstorm factory where Company Directors Brodie Nairn and Nicky Burns gave an escorted tour which included the chance to watch glass being blown and meet staff in the workshop carrying out engraving s. HRH then viewed the display in the studio gallery before unveiled a plaque to mark her visit.
Her next visit was to Tain Health Centre where NHS Highland staff gave HRH a full tour of the facilities including the dentistry unit and community unit before moving outdoors to unveil a plaque and plant a shrub watched by a group of local Brownies.
HRH was then taken to Tain Citizen Advice Bureau where Bureau Manager Mary MacDonald presented staff and volunteers and spoke to the Princess about the work undertaken by the team, including a demonstration of how Skype clinics are being developed.
Next stop was to the High Street premises of the Christian Community Action support Team (CCAST) where Chairman Graham Nutt and Co Founder and Project Director Amanda Nutt were there to introduce members of the Board before leading a tour of the premises. During the tour HRH had the chance to meet and speak to volunteers, including the Food Bank team, and clients and find out more about the work of CCAST in the community. Local Minister and Board Member Marie McLeod then invited HRH to unveil a plaque.
The final visit of the day was to Metalwork UK on the industrial estate where Directors Gary Ross and Niall and James Harkiss took HRH and guests on a tour meeting staff along the way who talked about their work and highlighted some of the interesting projects the company are currently involved with. HRH showed a keen interest in a 3D computer display before continuing her tour which included a demonstration by workshop staff and examining some of the specialist equipment they use.
The visit to Tain ended in the late afternoon with Lord Lieutenant Janet Bowen and Deputy Lieutenant David Lockett thanking HRH as they escorted her to the waiting car.