Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Findhorn Bridge - Morayshire Sept/Oct 1976

Morayshire Council required a Suspension footbridge, to be built over the fast flowing river Findhorn, only it had to be done in secret.
Condor Troop - Royal Engineer Commandos, were given the task. The troop was based in Arbroath, giving support to 45 Commando Group RM.

Captain Colin Peebles was in control of this clandestine bridging operation, to be built in the Darnaway Forest, near Forres.
The bridge would be part of the World Orienteering Championships, competed by 120 top sportsmen & sports women.
Because of the nature of the sport, which is described as - Cross country running, whilst simultaneously reading a map, the area where the event was to take place, had to remain a secret, until the last possible moment.

Captain Peebles had to plan, command and control the construction of a 44 metre suspension footbridge, required as a crossing point over the river Findhorn.
The bridge design was reasonably simple - Two steel wire cables were secured to specially designed rock anchors on both sides of the river and from these cables, a metre wide timber walkway was suspended, using mild steel hangars. Designed by HQ (RE) Scotland.

The troop had never built such a bridge before, yet Sgt Carder with his section leaders - Cpl Jock McAleese and Cpl Paddy Rainey, led the troop into this 'supposed Training Exercise', with such enthusiasm, that the bridge was completed on time.
The far bank of the river, only had a small section of rock, that was not thick enough to support the Bridge.
So much for the 100 page document - selection of area, preparation and building.
The Bridge had to be re-designed in 2 days, then construction proceeded very quickly.

The Organisers that "The bridge was undoubtedly a main attraction for competitors and VIP's alike, it made the Championship 'Unique' for all".
A visiting Dignatory was the Rt. Hon. Denis Howell MP - Minister for Sport, plus the Squadron OC & SSM.

The BBC filmed the event and placed one of their cameras at the Bridge.
Condor Troop was later presented with a Framed Map of the Championship Course.
Appreciation has been stated to Condor Troop by 15 Nations out of the 19 Nations competing.

The Sponsors of the Bridge was - William Younger, who supplied Condor Troop with 10 Barrels of Beer - in secrecy of course! A fantastic & challenging Bridge, with a Grrreeeeat finish!!

Captain Colin Peebles and the RT. Hon. Denis Howell MP

From the left:
???, Capt. Peebles, Cpl John Macleish, ???,, Sgt Peter Carder, Taff Morgan sitting in front of the sign.

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