Bridge build leaves lasting legacy in Lossiemouth

BEAVER Bridges has revealed the firm’s ‘great pride and emotion’ at seeing Lossiemouth children access the town’s East Beach for the first time, after the firm completed works to reconnect the ‘Jewel of Moray’ to its most famous beach.

The town’s only crossing to the beach closed in 2019 after concerns were raised over the safety of the original century-old bridge – with a business case study revealing the closure resulted in an annual £1.5 million loss to the local economy.

A measurer on the new bridge, which opened on May 31, clocked an average of 1,000 people accessing the beach an hour on its first weekend, with the 75-metre steel crossing having opened at the centre of the town’s esplanade – which is home to a wide range of pubs, restaurants, ice cream shops, and bakeries.

The crossing has been coated with a fluoropolymer paint system from Japan, which Beaver Bridges said will ensure it doesn’t need repainted for potentially 60 years – with it standing up well in harsh ocean conditions. A composite decking board has also been utilised, as well as parapets made from rigid steel posts with tensioned standstill steel wires infills – allowing for a shallow cross section to the bridge alongside rising tides.

Despite the bridge having only just been opened by cabinet secretary for rural affairs, Mairi Gougeon MSP, Beaver Bridges, which has bases in Glasgow and Shrewsbury, has already scooped the Shropshire business awards’ Engineering and Manufacturing accolade after displaying its full turnkey solution in Lossiemouth to judges – which included the design, manufacture, and installation of the bridge amongst its other projects and employment opportunities created during 2021/22.

Sales manager Richard Hinckley told Project Scotland that the company is currently preparing a submission for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Awards and the Institution of Civil Engineers Awards. However, he insists the real accolade is the community’s reaction to being reunited with arguably its most prized asset.

“We saw so many families on the beach on the day of the bridge’s opening, and their young children were just running about having the time of their lives – it was quite emotional, if I’m honest,” he recalled. “We all have brilliant memories of being on beaches as kids, but the past three years must’ve been so frustrating for the children of Lossiemouth and tourists seeing the East Beach but not being able to get to it.”

With business owners Henry and Johan Beaver having been educated in Lossiemouth, and Johan growing up nearby, securing the contract for the project was ‘really, really important’ to the company, with a personal aim of Johan’s being to use the time back home to inspire children to think about a career in construction and ensure girls know they have a valuable place in the sector.

As a result, local schools had regular visits to the site, with pupils receiving front row views of a 75-tonne crane with an extended luffer jib being transported through the town to lift the bridge into place. The firm also hosted regular presentations and assisted with the technical aspects of the bridge build being implemented into the teaching syllabus of one local school for physics and construction-related lessons.

“Ultimately, we want to encourage youngsters to come and join our industry – there’s going to be a pool of resources required, and we want to tap into that early and get them interested and understand that it’s not just about digging holes and putting steel together,” Richard said.

“There’s a lot of technical work required, and kids nowadays like using apparatus and computers – and actually, there’s quite a lot of gaming technology used in design, so something that they enjoy doing at home, they can convert it into a job and make a lot of money in the future. It’s just about helping them understand the potential of a career in construction.”

Richard revealed the company has recently bid for another project in Scotland and appointed a new project manager at its Glasgow base to further the firm’s growth north of the border. He joked that he was pestering Moray Council to let them build another bridge in Lossiemouth, revealing that the work in the town was ‘probably one of the most special’ out of over 140 projects in the last 12 months. So enamoured with the town were the team, that some have even booked up summer holidays in Lossiemouth!

“The community and Lossiemouth Trust were absolutely phenomenal, and supported us in every way possible,” he added, before telling how the local ice cream man would even stop by to keep site workers stocked up with complementary treats.

“The locals were really interested in the works – and not just when it opens, but how it’s built, what specific parts of the project were about, what material was being used. We had some really interesting questions.”

Final works at the site included the installation of a defibrillator at the bridge, which has been donated by Beaver Bridges to the Lossiemouth community alongside sponsorship of a local junior surfer and donations to a football team and allotments society. The firm has also completed the removal of the timber decks of the original bridge which are to be repurposed locally, with the upstands to be left in at the request of Moray Council as a nod to the beach’s heritage.

“It’s been an absolutely fantastic project,” Richard concluded. “From a legacy point of view, Beaver Bridges will always have pride in knowing that we restored Lossiemouth’s access to the beach – and that’s pretty special.”