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Ricardo's Bridge

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Ricardo's Bridge - 15th August 1930

Ricardo's Bridge - colloquially Ricardo's Brig - is the (demolished) 19th century footbridge in Gleann Eidh on Mar Lodge Estate, Aberdeenshire.

Ricardo's Bridge crossed Uisge Eidh, a short distance north from the confluence of Allt Chonnaidh with Uisge Eidh.

As a place name the derivation of Ricardo's Bridge is uncertain, but a likely explanation is that it takes its name from John Lewis Ricardo who, in 1841, married Catherine Duff - the daughter of General Sir Alexander Duff, and the niece of James, 4th Earl Fife.

In 1855 the footbridge was almost certainly in place - in MacGillivray (1855) the author refers to both of the estate bridges over Uisge Eidh - writing :

About half a mile from the village, a low rounded hill seems to divide the glen.  On each side of it, in a rent in the rock, a torrent comes rushing down.  Two wooden bridges afford facilities for crossing them.  They are too neat to be intended for mere rural requirements, and must have relation to game

- MacGillivray (1855) (p155)

In 1866 when the area was surveyed by the Ordnance Survey, only a footbridge existed, and it's shown on the old 6-inch map (1869). 

John Lewis Ricardo died in 1862, and if the likely derivation is correct I'm inclined to believe that the footbridge shown on the old 6-inch map (1869) is Ricardo's Bridge, and that the vehicle bridge that I remember continued in the name as it continued in the role.

So far - I've no hard evidence connecting John Lewis Ricardo with Gleann Eidh, but it's not wild speculation to suggest that John Lewis Ricardo may have taken the shooting tenancy of Gleann Eidh after his marriage, and that he ordered the construction of the footbridge.

So far I only have the following circumstantial evidence that John Lewis Ricardo was the shooting tenant of Gleann Eidh.  In Michie (1908) the author refers to the shooting tenant responsible for the Gleann Eidh removals about 1842 - writing :

The case of Gleney, whence nine families were removed about 1830 at the request of the shooting tenant, a Jew, is typical of what gradually took place all over Upper Deeside

- Michie (1908) (p327)

I wish John Michie had focused on some attribute of the shooting tenant other than his religion, but it is the only clue we have.  Clearly - if John Lewis Ricardo was Jewish it would strengthen the circumstantial evidence suggesting that he was - first - the shooting tenant of Gleann Eidh about 1842, and - second - (by implication) that he was the Ricardo from whom the bridge takes its name.  In Tayler & Tayler (1914) the authors listing the children of General Sir Alexander Duff - write :

CATHERINE, born 1820 ; married, in 1841, John Lewis Ricardo of an old Jewish family, and had one son ...

- Tayler & Tayler (1914) (p217)

As circumstantial evidence goes - it's pretty compelling.  I will continue to dig for harder evidence that John Lewis Ricardo was the shooting tenant of Gleann Eidh about 1842, but until then I'm inclined towards the belief that he was the Ricardo from whom the bridge takes its name, and that he was the shooting tenant responsible for the Gleann Eidh removals.

The photograph shows Ricardo's Bridge in 1930 - clearly still a footbridge, and clearly still on the original stone abutments.  The original stone abutments survive, and are about 7 ft. wide, and stand about 9 ft. above the river.

In the 1970s the bridge I remember wasn't a footbridge.  I remember a log-built vehicle bridge similar in design to the already demolished Canadian Bridge over Uisge Dé at the Canadian Camp.  The bridge I remember was very close to the end of its life - I remember using it to cross the river, I remember how rickety it was then, and I remember it being closed when it finally became unsafe.

Evidently - sometime after 1930 the footbridge in the photograph was replaced by the log-built vehicle bridge that I remember.  Other photographs in the gallery show how the original stone abutments were widened  to support the log-built vehicle bridge by the addition of log-built piers on the downstream side.  Given the similarity of design and construction, I don't think it's wild speculation to suggest that this log-built vehicle bridge may have been built during the war of 1939-1945 by the Canadian Forestry Corps.

Contributions

The valuable contributions to this article from : Adam Watson, and John Duff are gratefully acknowledged