AN historic bridge across the Tweed has re-opened following major repairs and a refurbishment programme.

Over the past 16 months workmen took apart the 185-year-old structure close to the Rink between Selkirk and Galashiels.

Although the Old Tweed Bridge has been closed to traffic since the 1970s it remained a popular crossing for cyclists, walkers and joggers.

During the extensive repairs props were fitted around the structure, which sits just upstream from the river's confluence with the Ettrick, to allow for the infill and masonry walls to be taken down.

A waterproofed concrete saddle was added above the arches before the walls were rebuilt and the road resurfaced,

And the foundation stone, which was laid by Sir Walter Scott during one of his last ever public engagements in 1831, has been moved onto the inside of a parapet.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf told us: “The Old Tweed Bridge has been given a new lease of life with this refurbishment and it can now be used by cyclists and pedestrians and enjoyed by the local community for years to come.

“Those crossing the bridge will now have the opportunity to see the foundation stone which was laid by Sir Walter Scott as it has been moved to the inside of the East parapet.

"A stone marking the restoration is also in place, marking a new chapter for this historic structure.”

For 140 years the bridge had provided a vital link between Selkirk and Galashiels.

The Tweed Bridge, along with a similar structure over the Ettrick just a mile away at Lindean, was built in the early 1830s by Darnick building company John and Thomas Smith at a total cost of £2,500.

The Old Tweed Bridge had fallen into a poor state since A7 traffic was diverted onto a replacement structure in the 1970s.

The Category B Listed structure was closed to walkers and cyclists around five years ago due to its deteriorating condition - and fears were growing that it would collapse after masonry began crumbling into the river below.

The complex project involved a variety of partners working together to ensure the future of the historic structure.

The work was planned in consultation with Transport Scotland, Scottish Borders Council, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Scottish National Heritage and the River Tweed Commissioners.

Stuart Wallace, bridge manager for Amey the company who led the restoration work, said: “This was a long and complex job, but seeing the bridge restored and knowing that its future is secure makes it all worthwhile.

"We appreciate the patience and support of the local community while this essential maintenance work took place.”