IT is one of the most photographed structures in Scotland – a 1.1 mile-long span of steel that cost the lives of more than 70 men and boys to build.
As such, capturing the Forth Bridge in a new light was always going to prove to be a difficult challenge for budding photographers competing to offer new thought-provoking snaps of the 123-year-old engineering showpiece.
But two men have answered the call with aplomb, with a retiree from Bathgate and an Edinburgh professional crowned winners of a contest to find images that will now become part of a bid to win World Heritage status for the bridge.
Billy Steven, 81, took the image that won the historical category at the age of just 16.
The 1948 photograph – captured as he completed a rare walk across the bridge following a Scout jamboree – gives a glimpse of the golden age of steam train travel.
Mr Steven, from Bathgate, said: “Luckily I’d taken along my father’s pocket camera and I managed to get a close-up of the steam train crossing the bridge. The photo still brings back many fond memories of that time and I am delighted it has won the competition, especially as my prize of a VIP tour will allow me to get back on to the bridge and see it up close again.”
A ghostly image of the bridge taken at night from the western platform at Dalmeny station, shot by 43-year-old Grant Ritchie, won the contemporary category.
The image was judged superior to photographs submitted by Edinburgh’s Nigel Darling and Dalgety Bay’s Paul McInnes.
Their photos captured a viewing platform with both Forth crossings as the backdrop and the older of the two bridges surrounded by thick fog respectively.
Mr Ritchie, who has taken “countless” images of the Forth Bridge, said he had tried achieving a unique view of the iconic structure. He said: “The fact that my image will now be used in the bid to secure World Heritage status gives me an enormous sense of pride and achievement.” More than 250 entries were submitted, with images coming from as far afield as Sweden and Germany.
The winning snaps will be presented to Unesco early next year as part of the bid to win World Heritage status for the modern marvel. The winners also receive a VIP tour of the crossing and a copy of the book, Forth Bridge: Restoring an Icon. Twenty-four other submissions will receive certificates of merit.
The competition was run by Historic Scotland, with all of the winning and commended images displayed at www.forthbridgeworldheritage.com.
Transport minister Keith Brown described the winning photographs as “spectacular”.
He said: “They capture the Forth Bridge’s past and present and demonstrate the place this iconic structure has had in our hearts over the decades. The range and quality of entries was very impressive. Of course, the photographers did have a stunning structure to work with as their focal point and this is something that came through in all entries.
“The competition has shown how the 19th-century bridge continues to inspire us all.”
Network Rail is planning tours to climb the Forth Bridge on foot or in a glass lift in a bid to open the engineering feat up to the public for the first time.