Manor Bridge (National Grid Reference NT229394) is situated about a mile-and-a-half west of the town of Peebles. Straddling the parishes of Manor (to the South) and Peebles (to the North) in the Scottish Borders, it is the twentieth bridge that the River Tweed has to travel under on its journey from source to mouth.
It is (and, it seems, always was) a road bridge, built in the late 19th century – 1881-3, to be more precise. JR Hume of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, described the bridge in 1976 as:
“5-span, [with] flat segmental arches on slender piers, and rounded cutwaters with dressed stone arch rings and snecked rubble spandrels.“
I don’t know what a spandrel is, far less a snecked spandrel. But if I achieve nothing else as part of this exercise, it will have been worth it just to learn the word “spandrels”.
Please do not think me uncurious – I will find out as part of this exercise what spandrels are, as well as piers, cutwaters and segmental arches. But I feel it is important to get at least one piece of verifiable bridge info up onto this website, so bear with me on the details.
The bridge was partly paid for out of the inheritance of one David Kidd, the inventor of the modern gummed envelope. Kidd’s sisters, Pringle and Elizabeth, inherited his wealth, as well as the baronial mansion Glenternie House, which he built a couple of miles up Manor Water (a tributary of the Tweed) from our bridge, although the house pre-dates the bridge by about 20 years.
DO NOT make the mistake of confusing this bridge with the nearby Old Manor Brig. The OMB crosses the Manor Water just a few metres to the south-east of our “New” Manor Bridge. Just how old is this so-called Old Manor Brig, I hear you ask? Old, I say to you, old indeed. It was built in 1702, some 180 years before our friend NMB.
You will no doubt be wanting some music to accompany your virtual journey to Manor Bridge. So, in honour of its benefactor David Kidd, I recommend Glue, by Bicep, from their eponymous 2017 album. Fire it up and enjoy as you read the remainder of this post.
Although quite close to Peebles, and the A72 road which takes you out of the town in a westerly direction, it is fairly quiet at Manor Bridge. That said, it is the focal point for several local walks and cycling routes, so there tends to be a few cars parked on and around the bridge, as there was on the day I visited it, at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in May 2020.
Of course, it was against the government guidelines at the time to drive your car any distance for anything but essential journeys. I didn’t say anything to the malefactors that I encountered on the day, as I’m not sure that cataloguing bridges for the purposes of this blog could be classified as “essential” any more than was driving to a local beauty spot.
Also, I have to say, these delinquents (at least those that I passed on my way) were very friendly – giving the usual smile, nod and cursory greeting as we crossed.
Manor Bridge is a sturdy-looking yet attractive bridge in a beautiful setting. There will be more spectacular bridges on our journey (and some far less spectacular), but I think this is a good place to start our quest.
It has the feeling of the start of something. If you were a duck, or a heron, say, navigating your way down the Tweed, you might consider the bridge to be a portent of things to come as you continue downstream into the busy market town of Peebles.
For the Manor Water, which unfolds into the Tweed at Manor Bridge, it is very much a destination. But of course it is just a waypoint, rather than the end of the journey.
And as for you and I, it is just the beginning. Bridge number one of fifty-five. I am satisfied to have got this blog out into the world. I look forward to one day looking back on this page as where it all began.
On we go then.
Canmore (Historic Environment Scotland) – https://canmore.org.uk/site/51325/manor-bridge#details