Thomas Telford, Civil Engineer
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Telford designed several structures in Dumfries and Galloway. This short guide is intended to help the visitor trace the roads surveyed, the bridges designed and the surviving features Telford built. They include a port, several bridges, two major road routes, a toll house and the remarkable Beattock Inn.
The tour starts at Gretna, goes north to Beattock, then south and west to Dumfr
For most of its route this follows the line of the present A75, but the exact route is as follows.
B721 Metal Bridge to Gretna and to Annan, joining the A75 west of Annan, leaving the A75 very briefly at Carrutherstown (bypassed by A75) and Collin (bypassed by A75) before entering Dumfries as the Annan Road. The road passed through Dumfries leaving on the line of the A75 to Crocketford and Springholm.
From this point, there were three feasible routes, all of which ended at Creetown before heading westwards to Minnigaff and Newton Stewart, thence to Glenluce, Castle Kennedy and Stranraer. Beyond Stranraer, the road went across to Portpatrick, but Telford had wanted a route south to Port Nessock as being a better harbour and anchorage.
The main visible structures are as follows :-
The Tongland Bridge now serves purely as an access to Kirkcudbright from the A75, but it is an excellent design and was built at something of a loss by local builders.
This section of the Telford route follows much of the original line, with 'cut offs' on bends and through small towns giving visitors a chance to stop and enjoy the scenery. The
In view of the tremendous damage to Portpatrick harbour, Telford recommended that the ferry to Ireland leave from the more sheltered waters of Port Nessock Bay, which only needed a short pier to produce a harbour safe in any weather. Sadly, although an excellent pier was built, most of it still surviving, Port Logan wwas used only by cattle-boats landing stock from Ireland. The calm though shallow waters of Loch Ryan ultimately replaced both Portpatrick and Port Logan.
The pier and its granite lighthouse are notable examples of Telford's design and now form a mild tourist attraction in this the most westerly work by Telford in mainland Britain.
(B) 1808-1828 : Glasgow and Carlisle Coach Road :
The line of this road in Dumfries and Galloway followed that of the pre-motorway A74, from Metal Bridge to Gretna, then to Kirkpatrick Fleming, Kirtlebridge, Ecclefechan, Lockerbie, Johnstonebridge, Beattock, Coatsgate, Nether Howecleuch and Elvanfoot. Surviving sections lie mostly along the old A74 (B7074), the structures are as follows :-
Metal Bridge :
The line of the Metal Bridge is now followed by the M74 bridge across the Esk, but the adjacent Metal Bridge Inn preserves the name. Although destroyed in 1916, the Esk Bridge was replaced by another structure, in turn replaced by the present A 74(M) bridge in the 1980s. Parts of the Esk Bridge (railings, lamp) are in the Tullie House Museum at Carlisle.
Gretna Bridge & Toll House :
Telford's original bridge was enlarged and a second steel girder bridge built alongside it. Originally like Dinwoodie Toll House (see below), The First and Last House in Scotland at Gretna was once a toll-house on this road, but has been greatly altered for the sake of tourism.
Dinwoodie Toll House (NT 10109005) :
The last surviving Toll House of the eight on this route, in its original condition, is the Dinwoodie Toll House a grade One Listed Building. The residence of Mr. Norman Miller and his wife Margaret, the co-authors of The New Road From Glasgow To Carlisle. The building has the original bow-window and arched windows at the side, and a quatrefoil through the chimney-stack.
Telford Bridge at Beattock :
Beattock Inn, now The Brig Inn & Telford Restaurant
Designed by Telford as a halfway house between Johnstonebridge and Elvanfoot, this was the Service Station and Motel of its day, stabling up to 50 horses.
All text and images © 1999 Richard Edkins of Dalbeattie Internet.
Moffat Town Website started 8th March 2000.
Last updated 14th March 2000.