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The Forth Bridges

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Comments (13)

Phillip Graham, RCAHMS staff

The Forth Bridge is one of the most iconic structures in Scotland. It never fails to impress, whether you're standing on the shores of the Firth of Forth, travelling through its cantilevered arms by train, driving in parallel over the Forth Road Bridge, or glimpsing it from the air. This image gives a dizzying view of the construction of the Forth Road Bridge, built between 1958-64. It's a great comparison of the two bridges, both landmark structures of their time. As assessments are being made of the ageing Forth Road Bridge and with the ongoing debate about requirements for an additional crossing over the Firth of Forth, it remains to be seen how any new structure will compare in terms of pioneering achievement.

3rd December, 8:00 pm

Percy, England

Stunning picture. Timeless.


18th November, 8:06 pm

Deirdre, Edinburgh

The Forth Rail bridge never fails to impress me. A magnificent feat of engineering and a true Scottish icon. Looking at it always brings a lump to my throat as it brings back momories of my childhood in the late 60's.

2nd November, 11:21 am

a.rover, edinburgh

on veiwing the photo, it brought back a distant memory, a realisation " iam part of the bridge" i may have even been on the ferry below, that very day, being taken on the ferry while construction of the bridge was under way... a distant memory of the enormity of it all from a ferry boat surely would influence a five year old childs life, it did, at 16 i joined the merchant navy, circumnavigated the globe at least three times before i was 19, worked in the north sea on ships and oil rigs... it made me wonder what WOULDNT i had seen if i was never taken on that special family day out !.

i must thank my parents.

24th October, 12:06 am

Helen, Scotland

Wonderful image. So powerful. So evocative. Reminds me of my childish wonder at crossing the Forth, and symbolises many of my personal memories of Scotland.

I've blogged about Treasured Places at

23rd October, 11:31 pm

Geoff Owenson, Scotland

The world's most famous railway bridge! One of the most iconic images of Scotland. Amazing!

25th September, 6:38 pm

Kate Byrne, Edinburgh

Such an image! I agree completely with Jennie Marshall (below) - I cross once or twice every week and always feel it's a privilege. It's great to see that scenes like this were still possible in the 1960s. Sometimes when one looks at old construction photos, showing the skill and confidence of workers hundreds of feet up with little or no safety equipment, one wonders if we'll ever be able to achieve what was built in the past. Not that I begrudge these guys the helmets and ropes that I see they have! I can't help suspecting that when it's eventually decided what to do about the present suspension cable problems, the working conditions will be more restrictive than this.

21st September, 4:17 pm

Jennie Marshall, Edinburgh

I love these two bridges, when I lived in England we used to visit family in South Queensferry every holiday then cross the bridges heading to Dundee and beyond. Now I live in Edinburgh and cross the Forth many times a year but I still get a sense of childlike wonder when I cross either bridge and am always gutted if while on a train I am asleep or reading an miss that all too brief experience. My favourite view of the rail bridge is the night time view from the road bridge. Although this is a great image no picture can do justice to the experience of crossing these bridges.

21st September, 3:12 pm

Jonathan Dowling, RCAHMS, Edinburgh

The Forth (rail) Bridge is iconic to Scotland as much as Edinburgh Castle and Ben Nevis. The sheer scale and elaborate appearance of the bridge has fascinated me all my life. The incredible construction photography, taken by the Bridge's official photographer Evelyn Carey, shows the epic scale of the build and reflects the social conditions of the time, with workers dangling periously over 200 foot drops.

Thomas Bouch's original suspension bridge design for the Forth was already under construction when his Tay Bridge collapsed. A new design by John Fowler and Benjamin Baker was constructed by William Arrol and was much stronger and re-assured the, rightly, nervous population. A pier, later turned into a small lighthouse, is all that remains of Bouch's attempt at a Forth crossing.

The scale, innovation, organisation and efficiency of the Forth Bridge and its construction still amazes me. Around 8 million rivets and over 50,000 tons of steel were used in the construction.

21st September, 11:35 am

rod mccullagh, Edinburgh

My grandfather worked his last job on the construction of the bridge and at 70 years old, walked up these main wires to deliver tools to the tower heads. Family reunions in Fife meant crossing the Forth by train or ferry and then the bridge opened and my grandfather died. One life experience closed and another opened.

21st September, 9:58 am

Sarah, Edinburgh

The Forth Bridges represent so much. They are a feat of engineering which for their time was phenomenal; they are works of landscape art of pleasing shapes and forms; they represent and escape from Edinburgh to the wilds of Scotland and all she has to offer.

You cannot cross over without feeling excited and envigorated - pleased to be coming home, delighted to be getting away and in awe of those who built such an impressive structure all that time ago.



Region: Fife

This photograph was taken by W Ralston Ltd in 1961
Sir William Arrol Collection

Votes: 295


View more information from the RCAHMS database (Canmore) on The Forth Rail Bridge | The Forth Road Bridge