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Newbattle bridge gets top award

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A stunning timber bridge located within the attractive wooded grounds of Newbattle Abbey College (Midlothian) has scooped top honours.

Built and designed by Forestry Commission engineers, the 14 metre bridge links parkland to the mature woodlands that surround the college.

In recognition of the bridge’s innovative and outstanding design, it won the “The Best Use of British Timber” category in the prestigious Wood Awards.

Dr Geoff Freedman, Forestry Commission Civil Engineer said:

“We are all thrilled to bits to win this award against some amazing competition. It really shows that the Commission’s engineers are at the cutting edge of timber design and innovation.

“The bridge is a shining example of just how fantastic and versatile home grown timber is and how it can be used to blend in with its surroundings.”

Made from Scottish larch, the attractive arch construction uses new techniques of glued and screwed timber instead of stress bars, a method invented by Dr Freedman.

The new bridge replaces an existing one that was installed back in the 1940s by the Army when they occupied the grounds and estate.

Nowadays, Forestry Commission Scotland manages the attractive woodlands in partnership with the college with a view to widening out access to the local community. 

Forestry Commission Scotland’s Community Manager, who is based at Newbattle College added:

“The bridge is stunning to look at and we think it will be a great asset for the students and local community to use.

“Both the college and the Commission are very keen that the mature woodlands found here are well used and welcoming for all. With the bridge now in place, it is only a short walk across from the park to the woodland walks.”

Ann Southwood, Principal of Newbattle Abbey College added:

“The College is most grateful to the WREN Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland for providing funding support to make the new bridge a reality.  

“This has improved access between the ancient woodland and the parkland allowing all visitors to Newbattle Abbey to access and appreciate Lord Ancrum’s Wood.  We congratulate Geoff Freedman and his colleagues  for achieving this well deserved Award.’’

Notes to news editors

1.    Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate

2.   The Wood Awards are now Britain’s premier award for wood in buildings and furniture. The aims of the awards are to recognise, encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation in wood.

3.   Funding support for the bridge came from Wast Recycling Environmental Limited (WREN) and Scottish Natural Heritage.

3.  Media enquiries: For more technical information about the bridge call Dr Geoff Freedman on 07774 152 686 or 0131 448 2333. Alternatively call Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.