Landmark bridge described as 'elegant'

HAWICK'S James Thomson bridge has been recognised by the world's most prestigious awards for structural excellence.

The bridge has been judged in the Pedestrian Bridges category of the renowned annual Structural Awards — run by the Institution of Structural Engineers since 1968 — and was shortlisted in a line-up of impressive international structures.

The designers of the James Thomson bridge, 'Gifford', narrowly missed out on the top spot of the category to Dublin's 'Sean O'Casey Footbridge' at the awards ceremony held in London's Canary Wharf last week.

However, the Scottish Borders Council bridge — a single span, asymmetric cable stayed structure — held its own amongst the world's most talented structural designers and received glowing feedback from the judges.

They dubbed it "elegant" and stated: "design excellence has been achieved throughout."

The James Thomson bridge, named after the Hawick 'bard' who penned "Up wi' the Banner" and "The Border Queen", was part of the Heart of Hawick project costing a total of 600,000 and attracted crowds to either side of the River Teviot when it was lowered into place last October.

According to designers 'Gifford', who entered the bridge into the Structural Awards, the aim of the bridge was to re-establish pride in the community since the decline of the textile industry and provide a safe link from the main car park to the town centre.

And the judges added: "Its clean simple form and the appropriate use of high quality finishes and long-life materials, combined with high calibre detailing has produced a landmark structure for the people of Hawick to be proud of, both now and for many years to come."

Canada's Whitemud Creek Arch Bridge in Edmonton was awarded a 'commended' just ahead of the James Thomson bridge, and Scottish Borders Council are thrilled with such success.

Head of Engineering and Property Robert Young told the 'News': "The standard of the competition was very high and it was an excellent achievement to reach the final four in this category, particularly since the overall winner of the category was a bridge of a different scale.

"The council are very proud of the finished structure."

The top honour of the 'Supreme Award for Engineering Excellence' was won by those responsible for the 1.85km Sungai Prai Bridge in Malaysia.

Other international winners were Spain's Madrid Barajas Airport, Phaeno Science Centre (Germany), Lingotto Speed Skating Oval (Italy) and Shenzhen Western Corridor (Shenzhen – Hong Kong).