The outstanding example of military engineering in recent centuries in Britain was the creation of a system of roads through the Scottish Highlands by General George Wade (1673-1748), the Irishmen who served as Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s forces in North Britain between 1725 and 1740. He built 250 miles of roads to a standard width of 16 ft, which were surfaced with loose gravel. Gangs of up to 500 men were from time to time employed in their construction.
The most important of more than 30 bridges built under Wade’s direction crossed the River Tay at the site of present-day Aberfeldy. It was the only bridge over the river which gave access from the south to the eastern and central highlands. The bridge, nearly 400 ft long with a principal arch of 60 ft span, was designed by William Adam (1689-1748) who embellished it with Baroque detailing. Wade laid its foundation stone on 23 April 1733, and it was built during the following summer by force of masons gathered from all over northern England who had spent the previous winter preparing the stone. Wade was anxious that the bridge should be built quickly, and in spite of delays in the quarry, at Farrowchil, only 1.5 km away, and shortages of transport, it was used by traffic from late October of the same year although the structure was not formally opened until 8 August 1735. The bridge was designed by William Adam (1689-1748).an architect who worked on more than 40 Scottish country houses. He also carried out a programme of improvement, including the sinking of coal mines on his estate in Kinross-shire which he renamed Blair Adam. The town of Aberfeldy grew up at the northern end of the bridge.
Aberfeldy Distillery, which draws water from the Pitilie Burn, was opened in 1898. Throughout the year it is open for tours which include a heritage display, a distillery tour and whisky tastings.