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Coldstream Bridge

A graceful seven-arched bridge which carries the A698 road across the River Tweed, and the border between Scotland and England, a quarter-mile (0.5 km) east northeast of the centre of Coldstream in the Scottish Borders. The Coldstream Bridge was designed by John Smeaton (1724-94) for the Tweed Bridge Trustees, and built under his direction by Robert Reid of Haddington at a cost of around £6000 in 1763-67. It comprises five segmental arches each spanning 18m (59 feet), with smaller arches at each end. The bridge features triple keystones and round decorations on the central spandrels, blackened with a flint infill, which may once have been flood-relief holes passing through the structure of the bridge. The bridge is now a scheduled monument and A-listed.

A cauld (or weir) was built downstream to prevent scour of the foundations in 1785, and these were further protected by concrete in 1922. The bridge was widened and strengthened in 1961, with the addition of cantilevered footways. The level of various floods and their dates are recorded on the northern abutment.

Tolls were collected until 1826 and the toll-house, at the northern end of the bridge, became known as the 'Marriage House' because it was here that English couples would come to marry, taking advantage of the more liberal arrangements in Scotland. At that time, Coldstream was as popular as Gretna Green in the west.

Robert Reid built a two-storey house beneath the toll-house for himself and his family. Although the trustees considered this a misuse of their funds, Smeaton supported Reid, arguing that the construction gave the bridge additional support, but also feeling that Reid had been underpaid for his work and deserved this bonus.

A plaque on the bridge commemorates that it was used by the poet Robert Burns (1759-96) on the 7th May 1787 on his first visit to England. The plaque was erected by the Coldstream Burns Club on the 7th May 1926. The bridge was also the means by which the Stone of Destiny re-entered Scotland on the 15th November 1996, having been removed by King Edward I seven hundred years previously.


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