Monday, 7 April 2014

F is for Forth Railway Bridge


F is for The Forth Railway Bridge, Scotland

Today we are still in Scotland travelling 14km (9 miles) West of Edinburgh

The Firth of Forth represents the most substantial estuary on the east coast of Scotland and is 88km (55 miles) in length with a maximum width of 31km (19 miles) crossing this river is the Forth Bridge Railway Bridge.

The construction of this cantilever railway bridge that spans a total length of 2,528.7m (8,296 feet) began in 1883 and took seven years to complete with the sad loss of life of 98 men.   It connects the North-East and South-East of the country connecting Edinburgh with Fife. 

The bridge is now the second-longest single span cantilever bridge in the world having been overtaken in 1917 by the completion of the Quebec Bridge which crosses the St. Lawrence River. 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Even today the bridge is regarded an engineering marvel; the double track is elevated 46m (151ft) above the water level at high tide.  It has two main spans and two side spans, each main span consists of two cantilever arms supporting a span truss.  The weight of the bridge superstructure is 50,513 long tons (51,324t).  6.5 million rivets were used and 640,000 cubic feet of granite.

 Photo from Wikimedia Commons

It has three great four-tower cantilever structures are 100.6m (330 ft) tall with each tower resting on a separate granite pier.  Those for the North cantilever and the two on the small uninhabited island of Inchgarvie act as coffer dams with the remaining two on Inchgarvie and those on the South cantilever use compressed air to keep water out of the working chamber at the base.

The bridge was opened on 4 March 1890 by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII who drove home the last rivet, which was gold plated and suitably inscribed. The key for the official opening was made by Edinburgh silversmith John Finlayson Bain, commemorated in a plaque on the bridge.

Passenger trains have a speed limit of 50 miles per hour to cross the bridge and freight trains are limited to 20 miles per hour.  Up to 190–200 trains per day crossed the bridge in 2006. 

"Painting the Forth Bridge" is a colloquial expression for a never-ending task, coined on the erroneous belief that at one time in the history of the bridge repainting was required and commenced immediately upon completion of the previous repaint. According to a 2004 New Civil Engineer report on modern maintenance, such a practice never existed, although under British Rail management, and before, the bridge had a permanent maintenance crew.

The breeze from the river blew her hair over her face

She dashed down the river bank winning the race

Her brother was pounding along behind her

He stopped, stood with arms on hips and gave a stare

‘Annie, I don't like it under here.’

‘James, don't be such a silly bear.’

‘What if it falls on top of my head?’

Annie laughed, ‘then you’d be dead’

‘I hate you,’ screamed her brother

‘I’m going to tell. You’ll be in bother.’

Annie ran around the concrete boulder
‘You wait until you’re older

You’ll be up there painting the girders.’

Photo credit: Reproduced with acknowledgement to Frank and Ian Rushbrook, son and grandson of A H Rushbrook


  1. Sally, I've been into bridges lately, most recently San Francisco's Golden Gate. My interest has mostly been in the higher levels or photography the people use to enhance the uniqueness of the bridge along with its history. Your post is does just that. What a grand bridge. Someday I would like to visit some of the great bridges in the world. :D

    1. They amaze me, I have two more featured in A-Z in my I post and T post.

  2. What a beautiful bridge. Thank you for sharing it with us. I think bridges are amazing structures. I always marvel that they hold me up when I am crossing one. Have a good day.

  3. Wow, that's amazing! I had heard of the Firth of Forth, but I never knew what it was.

  4. What a beautiful bridge! What a cost, 98 men. Wow. I'd love to see this in person one day. Thanks for coming by my blog and leaving a comment... I'll be back!

  5. What a great bridge Sally,
    It looks like a piece of art, rather artistic and very pleasing to look at.