When traveling North towards Aberdeen the railway turns ten miles out from Waverly and Travels over the Forth Rail Bridge. The well known local landmark has dominated the local view since it was opened in 1890 by the Prince of Wales. The one and a half mile bridge dealt with fifty thousand trains in its first year alone and has never looked back since.
It was a staring location in Alfred Hitchcock’s early version of The Thirty Nine Steps. A North British Railway’s Atlantic locomotive can just be spotted in the background. Later the bridge became a priority target for the Luftaffe in early World War Two but luckily survived.
The plans for the bridge began with work by Sir Thomas Bouch, his proposal was soon rejected however due to unforeseen events. A previous bridge built by Bouch collapsed in 1890, seventy people lost their lives as the Tay Bridge gave way in stormy weather. Many of the passengers on the fated train had previously traveled from Edinburgh over on the Granton/Burntisland ferry which the proposed bridge was aimed to replace.
A consortium of rail companies finally commissioned Benjamin Baker & Sir John Fowler to design the cantilever bridge. Construction began in 1883 and proved to be a hazardous living. Fifty eight people died, one hundred and six received serious injuries and five hundred and eighteen other accidents occurred over the seven years construction lasted.
THE FORTH ROAD BRIDGE
Opened on the 4th of September 1964 the bridge connected North and South Queensferry replacing the regular ferry service that had stood for 800 years.
Work began on the approach roads for the bridge in 1958, with the bridge being nicknamed the ‘Highway in the Sky’. At the time the bridge was Europe’s longest suspension bridge at one and a half miles long.
The bridge has four lanes of traffic, twin cycle paths and footpaths all being observed by 24 hour a day Close Circuit Television (A common occurrence now but Hi-tech for the time). Seven thousand feet of cable keep the bridge in place allowing for a twenty five foot swing for weather expansion.
Sitting side by side the two bridges give a stark contrast of the engineering feats of two different centuries and no doubt shall for years to come.
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