NS4276 : Overtoun Bridge

taken 8 years ago, near to Milton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

This is 1 of 5 images, with title Overtoun Bridge in this square
Overtoun Bridge
Overtoun Bridge
This thick-sided stone bridge, located next to NS4276 : Overtoun House, has parapets on both sides; the river gorge that it crosses has sides that fall away steeply, and the river is therefore located a surprising distance below the bridge.

Click on the end-note title for more views of the bridge.

For a side-on view of the bridge, showing the long drop, see NS4276 : Overtoun Bridge. For parapet details, see NS4276 : Overtoun Bridge and NS4276 : Overtoun Bridge (detail).

For details on the south-western side of the bridge, see NS4276 : Armorial achievement on side of Overtoun Bridge and NS4276 : Date stone on Overtoun Bridge.

Overtoun House was built in 1859-63 for the Rutherglen chemical manufacturer James White (NS6065 : Statue of James White of Overtoun), whose son became the first Lord Overtoun, but the bridge dates from 1895, and was built by H.E.Milner ["North Clyde Estuary - An Illustrated Architectural Guide", Frank Arneil Walker with Fiona Sinclair]. Although his son, John Campbell White (the aforementioned Lord Overtoun), was well known for his charitable works, he was famously lambasted in 1899 by Keir Hardie, who exposed the appalling working conditions faced by those employed in his chemical factory (in fairness, it should be said that White had probably been entirely unaware of these conditions).

See also NS4076 : The White Memorial, which provides further information about the family, and which contains links to further information about James White.

In 1994, a mentally-disturbed man threw his two-week-old son to his death from the bridge. Several subsequent documentaries and articles have discussed the bridge, based on reports of dogs leaping, to their death or injury, from the bridge. This phenomenon has been reported under the sensational and misleading title of "dog suicides". Suggested explanations have included: the supernatural; peculiar sonic effects in the structure of the bridge; or a particular scent (for example, that of mink) tempting dogs, from whose viewpoint the long drop is not apparent, to leap the bridge wall. See the link given in the end-note for a discussion.
Overtoun Bridge
The bridge is located beside Overtoun House, and crosses the gorge of the Overtoun Burn. It was built by H.E.Milner for James White in 1895. See the listed building report LinkExternal link (at Historic Environment Scotland) for further details. For Overtoun House itself, see LinkExternal link

The following description of the bridge (which gives its dimensions) is taken from the Lennox Herald issue of June 15th 1895, where an account is given of the official opening of the Avenue to Overtoun House LinkExternal link of which avenue the bridge is just one part. See that link for much more information on the avenue as a whole, and for an account of the avenue's official opening, an event that took place when the guests were assembled at the eastern end of this bridge.

At the top of the avenue, "the approach spans the romantic and picturesque Overtoun Burn, near the mansion house, by a magnificent new bridge consisting of three spans: the centre one of 32 feet and the side ones of 10 feet each. The total length of the bridge is 135 feet, and width 14 feet, and its height over 50 feet from the bed of the burn to the top of the parapet wall. The style of the bridge is [Scottish] Baronial, in harmony with the style of the home. It has taken a year to build the bridge alone. The stone a beautiful white freestone has all been got on the estate, and has been conveyed by a light railway about a mile in length".

See LinkExternal link for what is almost certainly the quarry referred to there; it also supplied some of the stone used to built Overtoun House (the remainder being taken from the building site itself). The straight-line distance from the quarry to the house is a little under three-quarters of a mile, and as noted at LinkExternal link in connection with the avenue, the light railway was about three-quarters of a mile long.

No trace of the light railway remains, but my own opinion (based on familiarity with the topography of the area) is that its course probably corresponded fairly closely with that of the present-day footpath that leads from the entrance of the quarry, past the Woodland Trust's "Welcome Cairn" sculpture and through the nearby gate, and then along a curving footpath that meets the road about 90 metres to the east of Overtoun House; that route would not require a crossing of the Overtoun Burn).

In more recent times, interest in Overtoun Bridge has increased on account of the appearance of many documentaries and articles about so-called "dog suicides"; see LinkExternal link (at Skeptoid) for a sober assessment.
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Grid Square
NS4276, 210 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Friday, 29 April, 2011   (more nearby)
Submitted
Monday, 9 May, 2011
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Roads, Road transport 
Near (from Tags)
Overtoun House 
Period (from Tags)
19th Century 
Architect (from Tags)
H E Milner 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4241 7618 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:57.1634N 4:31.5306W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4244 7616
View Direction
West-northwest (about 292 degrees)
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Other Tags
Overtoun Bridge  Bridge  Overtoun House Circular Path  The Crags Circular Path 

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