Special supplement to e-BLN 1230 BLN Pictorial 4 April 2015
‘The Forth Bridge’
In this second BLN Pictorial ‘special’ we focus on Scotland’s Forth Bridge. The painting of this famous structure, opened just over 125 years ago on 4
March 1890, has had for over a century the reputation of being literally a never ending job. However in 2002 a £130 million contract was awarded to
Balfour Beattie which involved the use of 4,000 tonnes of scaffolding and 240,000 litres of paint which was applied in a three coat system developed
in the North Sea oil industry. Owners Network Rail expect repainting (which will be of only the top layer) not to be necessary for up to 20 years. This
task, although finite, was still lengthy and completion was in December 2011. This BBC report includes a video about the project, and Josh von
Staudach’s 2007 photograph above, a montage of shots taken while crossing the Forth Road Bridge on foot, shows the painting in progress,
protected by climate controlled enclosures. ["Forth rail bridge head-on-panorama josh-von-staudach" by Josh von Staudach - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Forth_rail_bridge_head-on-panorama_josh-von-staudach.jpg#/media/File:Forth_rail_bridge_head-on-
The bridge was originally to be designed by Thomas Bouch, but after the Tay Bridge
disaster Bouch’s reputation was ruined and the commission went to Sir John Fowler and
Sir Benjamin Baker. There is a more detail on the history of the bridge here and here.
The Forth Bridge is a cantilever design, unusual for its time and apparently requiring
explanation to the uninitiated! This 1890s photo shows Fowler and Baker demonstrating
how their arms, in tension, and the poles attached to their chairs, in compression,
together provide rigid structures able to support the weight of the deerstalker-wearing
Japanese engineer Kaichi Watanabe and his central ‘chair’. Although it is perhaps an
entertaining period piece to us in the 21st century, it’s still a worthwhile demonstration of
the engineering principles. ["Cantilever bridge human model" by Unknown photographer for Benjamin Baker. -
http://www.sbe.hw.ac.uk/staff/arthur/frbpc/ForthBridgePostCards.htm. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -
This vertiginous view of a Scotrail 2-car class 158 DMU from near the top of
the bridge is © Stuart Mackenzie and is reproduced with his permission, for
which we are very grateful. The remaining photographs in this supplement are
also Stuart’s except where otherwise indicated. Your Sub-Editor freely admits
to having no head for heights and all of Stuart’s superb images are way
outside your Sub-Ed’s capabilities – either in photography or high places!
Previous page :
An up East Coast HST makes its way on to the bridge from the north side of the River Forth with the small harbour at North Queensferry at the top
left of the picture.
Next page :
‘Just another day at the office’ – a view up into one of the towers from near track level.
Previous page :
A view from one of the internal walkways towards the north end of the bridge, with the rail tracks towards the bottom of the picture and the Forth
Road Bridge top right.
Next page :
This stunning shot from the northernmost tower shows us the view southwards towards Edinburgh with the small island of Inchgarvie to the left
(east) of the central tower and the harbour at South Queensferry on the far (south) bank of the Forth just to the right (west) of the bridge. In the
background are the Pentland Hills, to the south of Edinburgh. For such a small island, Inchgarvie has a complex history having housed at various
times a castle, prison, construction base for the bridge, and gun emplacements for the defence of the bridge and Rosyth Dockyard in both world
wars. It also has the remains of one of the piers of Bouch’s suspension bridge, the only part of that bridge to be started.