The Firth of Forth is a strategical connection local between the northeast and the southeast of Scotland. However, it was dangerous to cross it, there were lot of torments, the ferries were unreliable and in the eighteen century, it even existed the possibility to encounter pirates there. So the parliament decided to construct a rail bridge that crossed the bay. The first project was given to Sir Thomas Bouch in 1873. However, because one of their previous works, the Tay Bridge, in Dundee had collapsed, the work construction stopped in its beginning stages.
There were many complications to overcome in this rail bridge project. The bridge had to be located in very deep waters, with more than 65 meters of depth, which turned the project to near impossible to make a project with several pillars through its extension. Another difficulty encountered in the design elaboration was the difficulty to overcome the great fear generated by the collapse occurred in the Tay Bridge.
In this context, and after Sir Bouch died, Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, both English engineers, were chosen to design this Rail Bridge. To overcome this great challenge they initiated the research and analyses of the terrain and possible foundations and structural systems of the bridge. Due to the great water depth, it would only be possible to construct merely one intermediary pillar, located over a small island, the Inchgarvie Island (pictured). With those researches, Fowler and Baker elaborated a project that ended up breaking many records of their time. It was a bold engineer project for its epoch.
The contract of the construction was given to Sir Thomas Tancred, Mr. T. H. Falkiner and Mr. Joseph Philips, and Sir William Arrol & Co. It were employed more than 4,500 men, it had been estimated that approximately 100 lives were lost, was used 53,000 tons of steel (produced by Frederick and William Siemens and Pierre and Emile Martin), 18.122 m³ of granite and it were necessary seven years, but the Forth Bridge was finally finished in 1890.
This bridge is located in Queensferry, a few kilometers west of Edinburgh, Scotland, on top of Forth River. The Forth Rail Bridge and its infrastructure are property of the Network Rail Infrastructure Limited. This bridge is an essential transport axis between the northeast and the southeast of Scotland. It is exclusively for railway traffic.
It has more than 2.5 km of length and until 1917, it used to be the larger cantilever railroad bridge, but now it is only the second larger. Although William Morris has described this magnificent bridge as “The supreme specimen of all ugliness”, it is a prime masterpiece of civil engineering that has being used from more than a century until today. Its construction had a style, materials and scale pioneer to its epoch and it was a major landmark in bridge design.
The Forth Rail Bridge is recognized not merely in Scotland but all over the word and in 2015, and was awarded with the UNESCO World Heritage Status. This bridge attracts people all over the world and there is even a song of it made by Robin Laing, a Scottish folk singer named “The Forth Bridge”. It has also appeared in popular computer games such as Grad Theft Auto: San Andreas which was added to the game by an Edinburgh based games developer.
Deaths; 73 tragic deaths were recorded during the construction on the Forth Rail Bridge, 38 were as a result of falling, 9 of being crushed, 9 drowned, 8 struck by a falling object, 3 died in a fire in a bothy, 1 of caisson disease, and the cause of five deaths is unknown. There were initially only 57 deaths but this did not include the workers who died working on the approaches to the bridge.
Ref; The Briggers: The Story of the Men who Built the Forth Bridge. Click the image for a link to the book, and for further reading.