Young authors bring North Bridge to life

Young authors with the books they helped write

Edinburgh school children have published two new books inspired by the history and refurbishment of the city’s iconic North Bridge.

Today (Wednesday, 13 September) pupils from Drummond Community High School and former pupils from Leith Walk Primary School, Broughton Primary School and Abbeyhill Primary School launched the books, ‘Stories From The Stones’ (by S2 pupils from Drummond Community High) and ‘What’s That About North Bridge’ (by P7 pupils from the three primary schools, who are now pupils at Drummond Community High).

The young authors worked closely with the project team and contractors Balfour Beatty to develop stories for the books, including visits to the project site, as part of the North Bridge Refurbishment Arts Legacy and Community Benefits Programme, and thanks to funding from Historic Environment Scotland.

Drummond Community High pupils also worked with Ancestry and the Council’s archives department to explore old artefacts and documents relating to the bridge, helping to inspire characters and ideas. The project was facilitated by Super Power Agency, an Edinburgh based local charity that promotes writing and literacy.

At the special launch event pupils read from their books, which include fictional stories about an early 20th century sailor returning to his North Bridge home, an imagined military battle on the bridge and a magic potion which makes the whole bridge disappear.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said:

It’s clear that the young authors of these books have vibrant imaginations - reading their stories has been very entertaining!

It’s particularly interesting to see how they have woven the majesty and heritage of the North Bridge into their tales, and it’s evident that all those who contributed have spent a lot of time thinking about the bridge and its history. Thanks to the Community Benefits Programme we’re able to really involve local people to learn and participate in the scheme as it progresses.

This is a huge project for the city and the people who live nearby, and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience as it continues. Once complete it will retain the much-loved North Bridge for generations to come.

The major project to restore Edinburgh’s 19th century North Bridge began in 2018 and includes reinforcements to the top deck, significant repairs to structural steelwork and improvements to the bridge’s historic cast iron façade.

Funding for the book has been facilitated by the Council through a Historic Environment Scotland Support Fund Grant, matched by Balfour Beatty, their supply chain and other companies associated with the North Bridge refurbishment project.

Ancestry has been working with Edinburgh City Archives to digitise over 21 million records, which are available on their family history website. As part of Ancestry’s community benefits with the Council, it provides free access to its website for users of the Edinburgh City Archives and Edinburgh Libraries.

Find out more about the North Bridge refurbishment project.

Rory McFadden from Balfour Beatty said:

We were delighted to work alongside City of Edinburgh Council, the Superpower Agency,, Developing the Young Workforce and Historic Environment Scotland, to collaborate with these talented young authors.

We hope that by supporting the funding of the project and facilitating site visits for the young people to safely explore never before seen elements of the iconic North Bridge structure, we were able to spark their imaginations to create these two exciting new books.

Claire Heffernan, Managing Director of Super Power Agency, said:

These stories are wacky, magical and hilarious. They show the beauty and importance of youth writing. We gave all our young authors the same starting point and their imaginations did the rest. The pupils thoroughly enjoyed the site visits and learning about local history. I think that truly spurred them on to write the stories you see in these books.

Susan O'Connor, Head of Grants at Historic Environment Scotland, said:

We're thrilled to be supporting the legacy project for the North Bridge refurbishment through our Historic Environment Support Fund. The project helps to bring the history and heritage of the North Bridge to life for so many of us, from those interested in technical engineering to local school children who can share their own memories and create stories in connection with the site.

Rhona Murray, Senior Manager, Content Acquisition, Ancestry, said:

AncestryClassroom is thrilled to pair up with Edinburgh City Archives to do a lesson on the historical records that the archive holds about people who lived in the city at the time the bridge was built. AncestryClassroom sought to be a potential source of inspiration for the children as they wrote their stories about the bridge, whilst also teaching them about the importance of their local archive. AncestryClassroom is available for free to all schools across the U.K. who may wish to sign up and incorporate historical documents into their lessons, be it in history, geography or in this case creative writing! Well done to all the pupils involved in the creation of two wonderful books.

Published: September 13th 2023