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The Forth Bridge, A Scottish Landmark

Posted on : 26-05-2016 2:47

Scotland’s Monumental Forth Bridge.

David Land

Here at UKACP we like to post about anything interesting and travel related. Luckily for us we’ve gotten to know a very knowledgeable Scotsman (David Land) who loves writing, especially about anything to do with Scotland. We’ll be posting some of his stories on Scotland and travel over the next months, we recommend you give them a read because he tends to tell a good story. Anyway here’s the first one :

Forth Bridge

Yesterday I made the six mile journey from my house in Edinburgh to South Queensferry on the River Forth.  On a decent day,  lunch in the small town is a pleasant prospect and the appeal of the Forth Bridge never fades.

Its massive size, unusual design and colour means that it dominates the local area and the quest to  take a picture that does it justice is an ongoing challenge.

The phrase ‘painting the Forth Bridge ‘ has entered the language, denoting a never-ending task. The legend was that the bridge was so large that as soon as the painters got to one end, it was time to  start at the other.

It is doubtful whether that was ever really the case – but I can testify that  for long periods you would see teams of workmen in specially constructed gondolas, painting the bridge in that  distinctive brick-red colour which  has remained a constant.

In fact in 2011 a 10 year long project to repair and paint the iconic bridge completed. Apparently due to new techniques and products being used it means the bridge will not need another lick of paint for 20 years.

Craig & Rose  – the firm that  won the tender to supply paint for the bridge in the 19th century is still trading today and kept  the bridge contract connection until 1998.

The Forth Bridge in ScotlandFor years the bridge was not celebrated to any great extent.  It had the occasional  moment in the sun – Alfred Hitchcock used it to  good effect in a scene from his version of   “The 39 Steps”.  For most of my adult life it was one of these great things that  was”just there” – a bit like Paddington Station – a large hunk of Victorian engineering which  was continuing to  serve its purpose.

Happily, things have changed.  In 2015  UNESCO awarded  the bridge as a World Heritage Site status.  It was given the plaudit of being “an extraordinary and impressive milestone in bridge design and construction during the period when railways came to dominate long-distance land travel.” It is the sixth World Heritage Site to be inscribed in Scotland.

The Forth Bridge’s Future

However the bridge’s days as a shrinking violet are due to  be banished to history.  Network Rail, the bridge’s owners, are planning on investing £30 million into  a visitor’s centre and a special walkway, which would allow people to  cross the Forth on top of the bridge.  It is estimated that the new attraction could bring 260,000 visitors a year.

If you want to see this Scottish icon in a more leisurely fashion, it might be wise to come now and beat the rush.

It has to be said that this bridge is an absolute monument to all those who worked and died building it. You seriously have to view it up close to appreciate its sheer size and almost overpowering presence.

Forth Bridge Arial ViewForth Bridge – Some Facts and Figures

1 Construction started in 1882 and was completed in 1890.

2. It it is 2467 meters long until 1917 was the world’s largest single cantilever bridge.

3. Of the 4,600 workers involved in its construction, 73 lost their lives.

4. In October 1939 the Luftwaffe made their first attack over mainland Britain.  The action is known as “The Forth Bridge Raid” but the actual target was the naval base at Rosyth near the Fife end of the bridge.

5. The bridge’s image was used by Barr’s to promote its IrnBru soft drink- “made in Scotland from girders.

Place of Interest

A good way to see the local area is a short cruise on The Maid of the Forth ( You’ll also be able to see the bridge up real close.

The Railbridge Bistro ( and The Boat House ( are both excellent inexpensive restaurants which offer great views and even better food.
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