KELSO SWING BRIDGE

Clutha Leader - - OUT & ABOUT -

The first bridge over the river at Kelso was built in 1876, and when suc­ces­sive floods at­tacked the struc­ture, it was low­ered.

How­ever, the res­i­dents missed the con­ve­nience of cross­ing the river at the old point.

So a pe­ti­tion was set up to ask for some ac­cess to be given, so the swing bridge was later built in the same spot.

This too was doomed.

A dar­ing horse­woman was once re­ported to have set her un­will­ing steed at the bridge - with dire results.

The horse put its legs through the open­ings.

No cross­ing was made that day.

Many feet, young and old, trod over it.

Faint proof of its ex­is­tence may still be seen down the gorge.

An­other year or two and the old rot­ting piles will be dust, just as the old traffic bridge has moul­dered away.

School boys as snail-like as any of Shake­speare’s day pranced con­fi­dently across, peer­ing down for any signs of trout.

Their cau­tious sis­ters, hair neatly braided and ‘pin­nies’ spot­less, would cross se­dately and with per­haps a fleet­ing glance at the wa­ter be­low.

Colour­ful tales are told of rev­ellers - hardy types of the old school of drinkers - who pa­tro­n­ised the bridge in the early hours of the morn­ing, so un­sta­ble of foot that they had to re­sort to cross­ing on all fours.

A party of pic­nick­ers was said to have crossed the swing-bridge sec­onds be­fore it col­lapsed.

The roads were hot and dusty in by­gone sum­mer days and there was no school bus to whisk the small trav­ellers safely home out of harm’s way.

The wa­ter was cool and tempt­ing and tragedies hap­pened.

From the late Ren­ton Kerse and Kis­met for Kelso writ­ten by May Brown­lie, pub­lished 1992.

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