Forth Bridge hailed in exhibition

Workers riveting the Queensferry cantilever in June 1888.
Workers riveting the Queensferry cantilever in June 1888.
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IT Is one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering – and now the extraordinary story behind the construction of the Forth Bridge is being celebrated in a new exhibition at the National Library of Scotland

When opened 125 years ago the bridge had the longest cantilever bridge span in the world and was the first major construction in Britain to be built of steel.

An old magazine depiction, showing the then Prince of Wales driving in the final rivet

An old magazine depiction, showing the then Prince of Wales driving in the final rivet

The final rivet was driven home by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, on March 4, 1890, signalling the start of train operations across a structure that has become an iconic part of the local land-scape.

The National Library is now displaying items from its collections to tell the remarkable story of the bridge’s eight-year-long construction which involved 4600 workers at the peak of activity, with everything from detailed plans and photographs of the construction to an original copy of the menu that was served to guests at the royal opening.

Alison Metcalfe, manuscripts curator at the National Library of Scotland, has organised the display and said: “The Forth Bridge has become a prominent Scottish landmark but perhaps we have lost sight of just how much of an engineering marvel it was 125 years ago and remains to this day. We hope this display will show some of the ingenuity involved in its construction and help to remember the sacrifice of so many who lost their lives when it was being built.”

n The Forth Bridge: Building an Icon runs until June 21 at the National Library of Scotland, George 1V Bridge, Edinburgh. Entry is free.

Living model of the Forth Bridge

Living model of the Forth Bridge

How the bridge was built - showing workmen at the base

How the bridge was built - showing workmen at the base