special feature
What difference?
An icon of both Scotland and 19th century engineering, after more than 115 years
the Forth Rail Bridge is still the
second longest bridge of its type.
This feature was funded by
Ramboll UK
© 2021 Engineering Timelines
Forth Rail Bridge facts
constructed ... 1882 - 1890
overall length ... 2,465m
maximum span ... 521m
height of towers ... 104m
height above river (high tide) ... 46m
steel in superstructure ... 50,000 tons
number of rivets ... 6,500,000
maximum workforce ... 4,600
cost ... £2.5m
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The Forth Rail Bridge
by Mark Whitby with Scott Lomax
reproduced with permission from The Seventy Architectural Wonders of Our World
ed. Neil Parkyn, Thames & Hudson, London 2002
Forth Rail Bridge
Great monument of the 19th century
The Firth of Forth bridge is one of the great monuments of 19th century British engineering. Before the bridge was proposed, however, the problems of developing a reliable and secure method of crossing the Forth had exercised the minds of some of the greatest names in engineering.
A re-design of the ferry system and proposals for tunnels were produced by John Smeaton (1772), Hugh Baird (1807), John Rennie (1809), Robert Stevenson (1817) and Thomas Telford (1828), among others.
By the early 1800s, bridge design was considered the solution by forward-thinking minds. Various schemes were considered and rejected before Parliament intervened in 1865 and authorized the North British Railway and its engineer Thomas Bouch to construct a crossing over the Forth.
Bouch, also the designer of the Tay Bridge, proposed a suspension bridge with twin spans of 488m. Construction began on the scheme in 1878 but was halted following the Tay Bridge disaster of 28 December 1879, in which 75 railway passengers were swept to their deaths when the central span collapsed in a gale.
A year later, Bouch's Forth Bridge design was rejected ..... more >
introduction |  the cantilever principle  |  building the bridge

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Forth Rail Bridge Forth Rail Bridge
Scotland, UK | 1882 - 1890
... The first large scale use of steel in bridge design