Forth Bridge memorabilia to go on show for the first time

Construction of the Forth Bridge in 1883. Picture: contributed
Construction of the Forth Bridge in 1883. Picture: contributed
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IT is one of the greatest engineering feats of Victorian Britain and has remained inspirational for more than a century.

Now, for the first time, people will be given a rare insight into the Forth Bridge’s design, construction and opening.

A book signed by many heads of state who visited the rail bridge. Picture: contributed

A book signed by many heads of state who visited the rail bridge. Picture: contributed

The unique exhibition will showcase original drawings, old photographs and technical instruments associated with the bridge, as well as the original visitors book signed by numerous heads of state including King George V, prime minister William Gladstone and the shah of Iran.

The artefacts – including never-seen-before items that had been gathering dust for more than 100 years – are on display at Blair Castle, Perthshire, until October.

The exhibition, which links the castle to Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, came about because architect Jamie Troughton is the great-great grandson of John Fowler – designer of the landmark bridge – and the husband of Blair Castle trustee Sarah Troughton.

Before turning his talents to the bridge, the Englishman’s first job had been designing the London Metropolitan Railway, which was the first underground railway in the world.

Jane Anderson, archivist for Blair Castle and Atholl Estates, said: “It has be well documented that not only was the construction of the rail bridge a massive achievement of Victorian engineering ability, but that it was built to last and, indeed, has not encountered the recent problems which have beset the Forth Road Bridge.

“Some of the original old photographs we have on display here at the castle show the rail bridge at pretty much the stage that the new Queensferry Crossing is at now. It’s perfect timing really [with] the issue of just what is required to build a bridge across the expansive Firth of Forth.”

She added: “We hope that members of the public will find these items extremely interesting. We feel it’s an ideal fit for the current year of architecture and innovation.”

The Forth Bridge was awarded Unesco World Heritage Site status last year, an accolade which is only given to sites of “outstanding universal value”.

The bridge was opened in 1890 after eight years of construction. A total of 78 men died building the structure.

The current exhibitions on the Forth Bridge and Hydro Power are due to run until the end of October.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com