History Of The Honeymoon Bridge
by Jamie G MacTavish March 2010
The bridge over the river Croe,
three miles from Arrochar, on the A83, Inveraray Road, is known as
“The Honeymoon Bridge,” and the nearby car park has a
Commission sign showing it as “The Honeymoon Bridge” car park. The
story behind this name is fast fading from living memory.
On a winter’s day in January 1950,
12 year old forester’s son William Rose, of Craigneuk Cottage,
Ardgartan, found a woman’s body at the shore of Loch Long, near the
mouth of the river Croe. He got help from Mr. Elias Grant, warden at
the nearby Ardgarten Youth Hostel. And together they recovered the
body. The date was Sunday 8th January. This was how the
mystery started to unravel.
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew B. S.
Donaldson, of 108 Attlee Avenue, Clydebank, had left, the home they
shared with Mr. & Mrs. McCann, Mrs. Donaldson’s parents, on
Christmas Day, they had suggested they were going for a drive, maybe
to see Mr. Donaldson’s parents in Renfrew. They never arrived in
Renfrew, but just disappeared.
So when William Rose, found the
body it was immediately suspected this could be 23 year old Hannah
Donaldson, the body was taken to Lochgoilhead, where it was
identified as Mrs. Donaldson, and an examination was performed by
Dr. William Birnie of Tarbet, it showed injuries to the head and
legs, consistent with buffeting on rocks or in a car accident,
was thought her body had been in water for five days. Her body was
then taken to Dunoon for a full post mortem performed by Dr. Allison
of Glasgow, assisted by Dr. James Smart of Dunoon.
The following morning, Monday 9th
January, a thorough search of the river Croe, meant two newspaper
representatives found a sun-visor, part of the roof, a luggage grid,
a bumper, a side window and a wheel. That afternoon the car itself
was located in a 20 foot deep pothole, using steel hooks. On the
Tuesday morning police and members of Argyll county council
recovered from the same pool, the rest of the roof, the rear part of
the car, the back seat with cushion and a door. It was still
believed by police at this stage that Mr. Donaldson’s body may have
been pinned in the driver’s seat of the submerged vehicle.
The Lochgoilhead policeman,
Archibald MacDonald, was the local policeman covering the search as
he was relieving the Arrochar policeman at the time. The case got so
big that superintendent John MacCalman (Deputy Chief Constable of
Argyll), was sent to take over the case.
On the Wednesday, the car was
raised a little off the bottom with grappling hooks. Then council
road foreman James Munro was lowered down with a safety rope tied
round his waist, to attach two heavy wire hawsers round the chassis.
On a signal from County road engineer George Smith, two heavy
lorries took the strain and pulled the wreck up from the pool.
The car was examined, with no sign
of a body or of clothes, closer examination showed that it was in
second gear, the clock had stopped at 4.15 and the speedometer at 40
After finding and handing to police
a blue-grey tweed coat, that he had found in the river on the
Tuesday, 23 year old railway fireman Walter McCrae of Glen Croe,
went back before work on the Thursday and carried on searching, he
then found Andrew Donaldson’s body trapped in the roots of a tree,
one and a half miles from the wreck of the car, he was only wearing
a blue shirt and trousers. His body and overcoat had been about 300
This was meant to be part of a
“Second Honeymoon,” as Mr. Donaldson who was 26 at the time of the
accident, had sailed four years earlier to work for the Chinese
Navigation Company, less than a fortnight into his marriage. Mrs.
Donaldson had remained in Clydebank, living with her parents and
working as a machinist in the Singer factory, he had only returned
Worries had grown when he had not
been in touch with family, or a friend who was meant to meet him in
Glasgow for a meal and a show. Mrs. McCann, was concerned when mail
for Mr. Donaldson, built up including a passport, and air ticket, it
was for a flight from London Airport to Singapore, on the morning of
Monday 9th, this was to take up an appointment in a
Malayan tin mine.
The car was a Standard Vanguard,
hired for touring about together; it was reported to the police when
it was five days overdue. It turned out that a council roadman had
found a wooden parapet near the bridge, damaged, and repaired it on
The road had been extremely wet,
with pounding rain the day of the accident; the weather was still
wet & windy with driving sleet, during the search and recovery of
the vehicle. Mr. Donaldson was a marine engineer.
On Saturday 14th, a navy
truck crashed into the river Croe, just 400 yards downstream from
the spot where the car landed. The occupants A.B. Thomas Taylor (26)
and Sub Lieutenant Alan Johnstone (43) were returning from Skipness,
Kintyre to Queensferry, when they crashed. Johnstone held on to the
truck, Taylor was thrown out and carried away by the strong current.
They were both taken to the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, Taylor was
detained with two broken ribs, Johnstone was able to leave hospital
on the Sunday, and went back to the scene to help men from
Arrochar’s Torpedo Range to recover the lorry, using a heavy lorry.
A number of fuses were missing and were being searched for by police
and naval authorities.
I have been fascinated by this tale, all my
life, my thanks must go to Mr Ian Rowatt of Ardrishaig, who shared
all the newspaper articles he could find, with me. These include:-
Glasgow Herald 9th – 13th 1950
Evening Times 9th
– 12th 1950
The Oban Times 14th and 21st
The Glasgow Herald 16th January
1950 for The Navy Truck
Loch Goil A Slice out of Paradise: Page
72 ISBN 0-9540825-1-6
If anyone has other information or photographs
connected to this incident I would love to hear from you - please
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