Forth Rail Bridge

History and Memorial

Tay Bridge and Forth Bridge

The railway engineer, Sir Thomas Bouch was originally commissioned to build bridges for the North British Railway:

-   over the Firth of Tay (beside Dundee) and

-   over the Firth of Forth (9 miles to the west of Edinburgh).

Work on the Tay Bridge commenced in 1871.  The bridge cost 350,000.  It was opened in May 1878  but collapsed in a fierce storm with the loss of 75 lives in December 1879..  As a result the plans to build a suspension bridge to Bouch's design, across the Firth of Forth were abandoned.

A Cantilever Bridge

Following the Tay Bridge, disaster, the public demanded that the bridge over the wider Firth of Forth should be constructed to a design which they believed would never fall down.

Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker designed a cantilever bridge in steel, with three diamond-shaped towers. 

Postcard by Valentine  -   The Forth Bridge  -  1890

The bridge was built  by Sir William Arrol.  Constructed started in 1883.  The bridge was opened in 1890 at a cost of 2.5m.  It is still in use today, carrying the railways to the north from Edinburgh.

Forth Bridge Memorial Planned

Queensferry History Group plans to arrange for a memorial to be erected to those who died during the construction of the Forth Bridge. 

The number of deaths has usually been quoted as 57.  However, the group's local historians and genealogists, who have been searching through old newspaper cuttings and death records, believe that the actual death toll is likely to have been closer to 80.

The group is keen to hear from anybody who has information about any of these deaths.  If you can help by providing any names or background details please email me so that I can pass on details to the group, or alternatively.


July 2014

Memorials Erected

Queensferry History Group identified 73 men who had died during the construction of the bridge.  Two memorials have been erected to these men, one at South Queensferry and one at North Queensferry.

This page on the Geograph** web site that has a photo of the memorial at South Queensferry with the Forth Bridge in the background.

** The Geograph Project is a charity sponsored by the Ordnance Survey, with the aim of making available, through their web site, images showing significant or typical features for each 1 km 1 km square in the Ordnance Survey National Grid for Britain and Ireland.

My suggestion that you look at the Geograph web site (above) replaces my earlier suggestion that you go to the Forth Railway Bridge Memorial web site. The Forth Railway Bridge Memorial web site now appears to have been taken over by a completely different company,a Japanese company dedicated to selling a Peruvian medical tonic / health food!

Peter Stubbs:  Edinburgh:  July 10, 2014


Forth Rail Bridge

South Queensferry

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