June 22, 2012

Inchinnan and a Lesson in Exploration

Portnauld by Bricheno
There comes a time in every exploration when you begin to wonder if what you're exploring is worth it. Take today's trip for example: we're making an afternoon visit to the town of Inchinnan (just 8 minutes from Renfrew).  It's the kind of place where local ladies meet on a Tuesday morning for badminton at the parish church and The Sustainability and Biodiversity Group encourages little children to walk to school for the sake of the environment. This will be a short visit, as it seems that the town's most striking features are a bridge and a factory building. Neverthless, we will try to make the best of it, and try to discover some gems in this little corner of Scotland.
India Tyres 3 by Bob the courier
India Tyres 3, a photo by Bob the courier on Flickr.
The India is a magnificent art deco building which was originally used by William Beardmore and Company to produce airships during World War I. The model featured here was actually the first aircraft to successfully cross the Atlantic and return! If you've ever heard of a Beardmore Cottage, it's a style that was developed here to house the factory workers. This facility was taken over by India Tyres in the 1920s (they are responsible for the art deco elegance), then fell into disrepair and vandalism. What could have resulted as a terrible waste of architecture was dramatically turned around in 2003 with a grand renovation scheme, and today the building is used by a number of commercial businesses. 
The design won "Best Re-Use of an Historic Building" at the Scottish Design Awards and is a category A listed building. I suppose that this is a rather impressive finds: a historically important building that is being used as a commercial center. 
BASCULE BRIDGE 21 by S McK
BASCULE BRIDGE 21, a photo by S McK on Flickr.


Next we will stop by Inchinnan's well-known bridge which crosses the confluence of the White Cart and Black Cart rivers. This has long been an important crossing, once forded by splashing men and horses, then by a little ferry, then finally by a sturdy bridge.

According to SecretScotland.org.uk, this is a Scherzer Rolling Lift Bascule Bridge, and has the prestige of being the only remaining rolling lift bridge in the country. It's rather like The Last of the Mohicans, right? I can see it now: The Last of the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bascule Bridges: A Harrowing Tale of Love and...um, never mind. 

If you're like me, you're wondering "What the heck is a Bascule bridge?" Well, that's what Google is for. Behold the evolution of the White Cart Bridge: in 1759 a arched bridge was build across the river (7 or 9 arches, I'm not quite sure), but ships sailing from Paisley were forced to lower their masts in order to pass underneath it; this led to a swing bridge being built, then in 1923 the Bascule bridge which is still in use today was constructed.

A Bascule Bridge
Apparently a "Bascule bridge" functions rather like a seesaw. When the bridge needs to move out of the way for a boat to pass a counterweight balances the span throughout the upward swing, making the movement relatively quick and almost effortless. London's Tower Bridge is an example of this sort of bridge. The "rolling lift" part of the equation is what makes Inchinnan's bridge unique; the design seems to be infinitely superior to the pivot-style Tower Bridge, allowing smooth operation that is well suited to heavy and important traffic. 

So now I hope that you're a little better informed about this bit of Britain, and I think that we deserve a little rest from sightseeing. How about a short, fun video about how Jaffa cakes are made?



First Photo:
Portnauld, a photo by Bricheno on Flickr.
Bridge animation: 
By Y_tambe (Y_tambe's file) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
www.secretscotland.org.uk
en.wikipedia.org
books.google.com
www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

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