A key river crossing to Highland Scotland.
The Brig o’ Blair offers a fine view of the River Ericht, one of the Ecomuseum’s main rivers.
Its rapid and often turbulent water course, which descends 80 metres (262.4ft) from its headwaters at Bridge of Cally, provided the energy to power the many textile mills spinning Flax, Jute and latterly Rayon, that grew up along its banks during the 18th and 19th centuries.
This power was harnessed by building weirs on the river to divert the water into lades. These then channelled the water to water wheels which then turned, creating the power needed to run the steam powered machinery. The construction of weirs was necessary in order to raise the level of the water in the river and to direct it into the entrances of the mill lades through sluice gates. The higher the croy the greater the fall between the entrance of the lade and the mill-wheel, and in consequence the greater the power produced.
Before 1777 there was no bridge over the Ericht at Blairgowrie. All vehicular traffic had to cross by a ford where the croy, or weir, now is. Foot passengers were taken across the river in a small coble, or boat, with this part of the river named the “Coble Pule (Pool)” with the steep ascent on the Rattray side called the “Boat Brae”, the name retained to this day.
In the great flood of October 1847, the water was up to within a few feet of the middle arch of the bridge and the arch on the Blairgowrie side collapsed due to falling trees and the force of the water, but it was speedily repaired.
It was first widened in 1871/72, paid for by public subscription and then widened again in 1954/55 by the then County Council, with the new, present one built inside the old one.