‘Love locks’ to be removed
Fastening padlocks to bridges has become a global
tradition. But one Scots bridge is about to have all of its “love locks” removed, writes MAUREEN SUGDEN
IT is a tradition said to date back to the First World War, where besotted partners fasten padlocks to bridges and throw away the keys in a symbolic gesture of enduring love that cannot be broken.
But love is on the rocks in a popular Scottish tourist town after the council decided to remove the “love locks” from the local footbridge amid safety concerns.
The Port-na-craig suspension footbridge in Pitlochry, Perth and Kinross, spans the River Tummel, linking the town to Port-na-craig on the opposite bank.
The bridge, which opened in 1913, has become a hot-spot for visitors to express their affection for their partner, or to mark the passing of a loved one, by fixing personalised padlocks to the structure.
In 2013, all the locks were taken off ahead of a £275,000 makeover of the bridge, but now Perth and Kinross Council have said they are to remove the locks permanently.
Work will begin on Monday and the locks will be stored at Pitlochry Library for four weeks to allow their owners the opportunity to collect them.
Sheena Brennan, owner of Pitlochry Hardware Store, where people buy the locks and can have them personally engraved, said: “I think it’s a shame, the council should offer an alternative.
“We’ve been selling love locks in our store for a number of years and it’s mainly tourists that do it, who have probably seen it elsewhere and abroad.
“Why don’t they put up a fence along the river near the bridge that’s dualpurpose for safety and for people to attach their locks?”
Love locks are said to have originated in the Serbian town of Vrnja ka Banja, where just before the First World War, a young officer and schoolmistress fell in love.
They would meet nightly at the local bridge, but when he went to war in Greece, he fell in love with another woman, ending his engagement.
His former love died of heartbreak, the legend maintains, and superstitious local women began going to the bridge, writing their names with their lovers’ names on padlocks, and locking them to the bridge, in the hope that it would bind their paramours to home.
The tradition spread and in Paris in June 2014, part of the parapet of the world famous Pont Des Arts bridge collapsed under the weight of the growing number of locks that had been fixed on to it – more than a million of them.
Tying a “love lock” on to the Pont des Arts before throwing the key into the River Seine beneath had become a tourist highlight in recent years.
French officials acted, removing some 7,500 kilos of locks after the incident and later launching a deterrent programme, replacing several sections of railings on the bridge with see-through panels they hoped would make it impossible to attach locks to.
However, as well as still fixing locks to the nearby Leopold-sedar-senghor footbridge, couples then began to scrawl messages and lovehearts on the perspex.
Preservation group No Love Locks said: “Unfortunately, no matter what obvious efforts the city has made to stop love locks on the Pont des Arts, people still attempt to hang locks there.
“It’s a real middle finger from some thoughtless tourists to the people of Paris.”
Back in Scotland, a spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council insisted that there was no killjoy element, saying: “The work is being carried out as the extent of the padlocks is now such that it is preventing full inspection of the bridge and its structural elements.
“They are also causing damage to the bridge paintwork, leading to rusting of steel sections, as well as posing a potential snagging hazard for pedestrians.
“The removal of the locks and touchups to the bridge paintwork are expected to be completed, weather permitting, by Thursday, November 22.
“Port-na-craig footbridge will remain open to the public at all times during the lock removal and painting works.”
She added: “Additionally, signs will be erected at either end of the bridge advising that any love locks placed on the bridge in future will be removed, for the reasons stated above.”
I think it’s a shame, the council should offer an alternative
All the locks are to be removed from Port-na-craig suspension bridge in Pitlochry because of safety concerns.
Part of Paris’s Pont des Arts parapet fell off.
Love locks on Glasgow’s Tradeston bridge.