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The Gallery | 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge

Today (Wednesday 4 March) marks the 125th anniversary of the official opening of the Forth Bridge in 1890

The Forth Bridge was designed by former ICE president Sir Benjamin Baker. It will be honoured by a flypast by a Spitfire and an RAF Typhoon to commemorate the “Forth Bridge Raid” – the location of the first German air attack during the Second World War.

Bridge designer Baker pioneered the cantilever design, which allowed the structure’s cantilevers to spread its weight across its span – the equivalent length of London’s Green Park.

The bridge, which cleared the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh to Fife, increased trade in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

ICE Panel for Historical Engineering Works chair Gordon Masterton said: “The Forth Bridge is one of the world’s supreme engineering achievements.

“It epitomises the ‘can-do’ ethos of the high Victorian age with its genesis in the industrial revolution. The fact that it was successfully built over 125 years ago and is still in service is a stunning vindication of sustainable design.

“The bridge today remains an awe inspiring sight, at least the equal of the greatest and best known bridges in the world – the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. In many ways it exceeds them all in its achievement. Its record span length was held for an unprecedented time, and the volume of masonry and steel in a single bridge exceeded anything that had gone before – or since.  Even today we would call this a heroic enterprise.” 

To mark the 125th anniversary, the ICE Scotland Museum is holding a lecture at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh on 27 March to discuss its lasting legacy. An original hydraulic riveting machine, used to bolt in many of the 7M rivets will also be unveiled at the event. More information is available here.

There is also an online exhibition to commemorate the bridge with images from ICE’s archive collection. More information is available here.


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