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White Cart Bridge

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Viewed from the south, 2007, Fox
Viewed from the south

The White Cart Bridge is a Scherzer Rolling Lift Bascule Bridge over the White Cart Water, located on the A8 road from Renfrew to Inchinnan, west of Glasgow.

The only remaining rolling lift bridge in the country, it was built by Sir William Arrol and Co, and opened in March 1923, allowing shipping to travel up the White Cart Water to the docks in Paisley. Falling out of regular use during the 1960s, the bridge was acquired by the local Council, and became a Category A listed building in December 1994, but has always remained operational as the river is used for sea access by Doosan Babcock, formerly Babcock and Wilcox, a large engineering works. It opened fully on August 29, 2007, allowing a barge carrying a large steel bobbin, for the cable laying industry, to pass down the river.

By the 1960s, the reported fee for opening the bridge was 7/6, or 37.5p.

In 2005, a £26 million renovation of the bridge was undertaken, supervised by Historic Scotland. Formerly appearing in faded blue paint, the bridge emerged with a fresh cream and maroon colour scheme.

Sir William Arrol and Co also constructed a pedestrian lifting bridge across the White Cart Water at Carlisle Quay (off New Sneddon Street), but this was declared unsafe and closed to traffic in 1997, having already been disabled from lifting for more than 30 years.


The confluence of the Black Cart Water and White Cart Water has always been an important crossing point, initially by fording the waters, then by ferry.

In 1759, a seven arch bridge was built over both rivers, but was washed away by a flood in 1809. It was replaced by two separate bridges, both of which are still standing (2007). The bridges barred the passage of any vessels, unless they could lower their masts, and led to the building of a canal to bypass them.

In 1787, the Canal Act was passed allowing the Cart River Navigation Trust to canalise the river up to Paisley, although this was not completed until 1838. A new section of canalised river was excavated, completely changing the course of the river, as more bends were removed upriver.

In 1838, a swing bridge was installed, preceding the lifting bridge, and explaining why it is often referred to incorrectly as a swing bridge. The operating gear for the swing bridge was produced by Barr and McNab of the Abercorn Foundry, Paisley. A cottage was built for the bridge keeper, on the island formed by the new route of the river.

Sections of the White Cart which had been cut off gradually silted up, and maps of 1914 and 1924 show them as mud. The section next to the new bridge was filled in completely, leaving no evidence of its existence. The Geographia Glasgow Street Atlas of 1989 still shows the river as having two routes at this point, and OS mapping from 2007 still shows where the isolated sections connected with the new river.

Sir William Arrol

Sir William Arrol (1839 – 1913) was a Scottish civil engineer, bridge builder, and Liberal Party politician. Born Houston, Renfrewshire, he was responsible for a number of notable structures, such as London's Tower Bridge.


Keeper's cottage and bridge, 2007, Fox
Keeper's cottage and bridge
View from the west, 2007, Fox
View from the west
Old bridge over former river course, 2007, Fox
Old bridge over former river course

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