Bridge over the Atlantic

Bernera, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, HS2 9LP

Type:Historic Sites

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The Old Bridge Bernera

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The Bernera Bridge is a lifeline to the island, providing a connection with mainland Lewis for supplies and commuting. Prior to its construction boats were used to transport people, livestock and goods to and from mainland Lewis. However, after WWI, the people of Great Bernera, realising how their relative isolation could negatively impact the future of their island, started a campaign for a permanent connection to the mainland. It was said that the spirited islanders apparently threatened to blow up the cliffs and create their own causeway, but thankfully before they did, in 1951 public funding was granted and construction began to build a bridge to span the narrows.

The bridge design was a breakthrough for British civil engineering at the time. It was the first of its kind in the UK to be built with pre-stressed concrete girders and utilised only a quarter of the steel required in conventional bridge building. The opening was a cheerful day with over 4000 people attending to take those first steps across the new bridge.

But this is not the end of the story; ‘The Bridge Across the Atlantic’ as it was more affectionately known, was due a routine structural survey in 2020. Serious faults were discovered and a weight restriction of 7.5T was immediately placed on the bridge meaning the community had pull together to find different ways of collecting rubbish and delivering oil, gas and heavy building materials. Once again, the residents of Bernera waited with in trepidation to see if a new bridge would be provided. In 2021 funding was secured and work began in March 2021 to build a single span Delta bridge, capable of carrying 44 tonne loads. At a cost of close to £2,000,000 the bridge was officially opened to all vehicles on 15th December 2021. The ribbon was cut and once again a lively crowd gathered to cross over the Atlantic!

The old bridge remains in place and is now a popular stopping-off point for mackerel fishing in the summer months, taking in the lovely views, picnicking, and visiting the small group of Standing Stones called Ceann Thulabhaig (Callanish VII) which lie on the hill at the north end of the bridge.

Image: The Old Bernera Bridge

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What's Nearby

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