TULLIBODY Old Bridge runs parallel to the A907 Alloa to Stirling road.

Open only to walkers and cyclists today, it was once a busy route between the two towns.

It is an unusually long bridge measuring 442 feet along the parapets and it varies in width from eleven and a half feet at its narrowest point to 20 feet.

It has two main arches over the River Devon with a further arch to the west to accommodate a side channel of the river.

It was also designed with three flood arches. Notably it is a winding hogback structure.

This was deliberate so that the traffic flowing over it would be forced to slow down therefore protect its users.

Once known as Old Downie’s Bridge, the original bridge was built in the 16th century by local philanthropist Robert Spittal, who was tailor to James IV in the 1530s.

He had become wealthy due to his position and used his money to improve the lives of the poor not only in Stirling but also in the local area.

During the cold winter months, this bridge was the only crossing on the river between the Sheriffdoms of Stirling, and Clackmannanshire and Fife.

At the time it was built, it consisted of four arches but during some stage in the next century, one of them was removed and a causeway replaced it.

On 23rd January 1560, the structure was damaged by William Kirkcaldy of Grange who, according to John Knox in his Historie of the Reformation in 1732, ‘cut the Brig o’ Tullibodye’ with the eastern most arch destroyed in order to impede the progress being made by the French army at the behest of Marie of Guise, mother of Mary, Queen of Scots and, at the time, Queen Regent.

However, the Catholic Frenchmen, who were travelling from Fife to Stirling, were determined and made their own bridge over the River Devon by removing the roof of the nearby Protestant Tullibody Kirk.

This enabled them to still cross the river and reach the town.

In the 17th century, the bridge was repaired on several occasions, as recorded by the Town Council of Stirling which knew its significance.

The first repairs took place in 1600 followed 16 years later for further repairs.

It was repaired again in 1663,1665 and 1681 but more often than not, it was left to deteriorate.

It was during this century a toll was introduced with money collected from those wishing to travel over it used to repair it.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

IN 1697, John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, awarded the contract for the upkeep of Old Tullibody Bridge to local stonemason Thomas Bauchop, father of Tobias Bauchop, the renowned master mason from Alloa.

Under the terms of the contract, Bauchop was to install a 'tirlace [lattice] gate, with lock and key.'

With the money he collected, Bauchop had a new eastern arch built, and carried out further repairs. He also was also responsible for the insertion of iron ties.

In the 19th century, the bridge became embroiled in a murder case in which a young farm hand, James Paton, was beaten to death by local man Thomas Arnot in 1864.

Arnot had been clearing a ditch near the bridge when the boy ran over the part he had been working on with the horse that he had with him.

Arnot was incensed and hit the boy with a shovel. Following his trial, he was held at Her Majesty's Pleasure in Alloa jail. The case became known as the Tullibody Bridge Murder.

In 1915, the bridge was abandoned when a new steel bridge was built slightly to its north, although in 1961, the local council gave it a facelift.

However, the steel bridge was replaced in 1997 by a concrete one with the rerouting of the A907. The steel bridge was demolished in 2003.

That same year, Clackmannanshire Council funded a restoration project of the Old Bridge for locals to use for recreational purposes. Structural repairs were carried out and the bridge itself was resurfaced.

Encroaching vegetation was removed, and repointing work was carried out.

The works took two years to complete at a cost of around £100,000, with Historic Scotland providing a £27,000 grant to help with its repairs. Information boards on its history were installed at either end of it.

The Old Bridge is a Scheduled Monument and was Category A listed by Historic Scotland on 9th June 1960. It is of national historical significance and forms part of the National Cycle Route.

As for Spitall, the man who had the foresight to build the bridge, as well as the old bridge at Bannockburn and the Bridge of Teith, his name has been immortalised in Stirling with the former Spittal's Hospital and Spittal Street being named after him.

The hospital, 'built for the relief of decayed tradesmen or burgesses', was the oldest established in Stirling for that purpose.

And it was thanks to the generosity of the king's tailor that travel became easier in Clackmannanshire.