This splendid rail bridge crosses over the Firth of Forth taking rail traffic north from Edinburgh. It stands alongside, but pre-dates, the road bridge. Construction started in 1882 and it opened in 1890. Stretching 8,296 feet it runs from Edinburgh at South Queensferry to Fife at North Queensferry. The bridge was designed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker.
Sir John was an English civil engineer who specialised in the construction of railways and railway infrastructure and Sir Benjamin Baker was an eminent English civil engineer. Both men were highly respected engineers of the time and Sir John Fowler was the youngest president of the ‘Institution of Civil Engineers’ between 1865 and 1867. This bridge over the Firth of Forth was built by Sir William Arrol & Co, a Glasgow based company.
The official name of the bridge is the ‘Forth Bridge’ but to differentiate it from the road bridge it is often referred to as the ‘Forth Rail Bridge.’ It is a ‘cantilever bridge’ – this describes the mechanical construction and refers to the bridge consisting of structures that project horizontally into space, supported at only one end.
Before the present bridge was constructed a plan by Sir Thomas Bouch was considered but this had to be abandoned after the Tay Bridge disaster because the Tay Bridge had been built under his professional supervision.
The Forth Bridge is made up of 54,000 tonnes of steel, 20,950 cubic metres of granite, 6,780 cubic metres of stone, 49,200 cubic metres of concrete, 50 tonnes of cement and all held together by 7 million rivets. At the peak of construction over 4,000 people worked on the project.
WORLD WAR TWO
During World War II, the first German air attack on Britain took place over the Forth Bridge and although known as the Forth Bridge Raid,’ the bridge was not in fact the intended target of the attack.
The bombers objective had been shipping from the Rosyth naval base where it is believed the Germans were hoping to find ‘HMS Hood,’ the largest war ship in the Royal Navy.
Spitfires from RAF 603 ‘City of Edinburgh’ Squadron were scrambled to intercept and they shot down the first German aircraft to be downed over Britain in the war.
A NEVER ENDING STORY
In 2002, work started to repaint the bridge in its entirety for the first time in its history at a cost of £130 million. When people talk about a project that is never ending the euphemism often applied is that it is ‘like painting the Forth Rail Bridge.’
THE 39 STEPS
A scene from one of the most iconic British films, The 39 Steps (1935) was shot under the Bridge.
Network Rail, the owners of the Forth Rail Bridge, has plans underway to open a visitor centre.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Carfraemill, Oxton, Lauder
Borders, Scotland, TD2 6RA
+44 (0)1578 750 697
- Address: (Best View) B924, Newhalls Road, South Queensferry, Scotland, UK, EH30 9TA
- GPS: 55.9900338,-3.3870570999999927
- Part of UK: Scotland
- Sat Nav Postcode: EH30 9TA
- Entrance Fees: Free Access (to viewing point)
- Disabled Access: Good (to Viewing point)
- Visibility from Road: Excellent (from viewing point)