Forth Bridge to get Spitfire flypast

A Spitfire will take part in the fly-past at the Forth Bridge. Picture: Greg Macvean

A Spitfire will take part in the fly-past at the Forth Bridge. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A WEEK of celebrations to mark the 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge will feature a spectacular flypast from a replica Spitfire and an RAF Typhoon.

Around 500 people are set to scale the heights of the bridge over the next five days as visitors flock to pay tribute to the iconic structure – with more than £160,000 expected to be raised for charity during various events throughout the week.

On Sunday, 300 dedicated fundraisers secured more than £125,000 for Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland by climbing to the top of North Queensferry tower and then abseiling off the bridge’s approach span at Hawes Brae.

Tomorrow’s flypast will mark 125 years to the day since the cantilever railway bridge was opened on March 4, 1890.

The swooping air display, which will begin around 1.25pm, has been arranged in tribute to the Forth Bridge raid – the German Luftwaffe’s first air raid on Britain, on October 16, 1939.

The targets were boats travelling back and forth from Rosyth naval base in the Forth, and three ships were damaged – the destroyer HMS Mohawk and cruisers HMS Southampton and HMS Edinburgh.

Marie Calder, secretary of the Queensferry History Group, said popular belief had incorrectly held the target of the raids to be the bridge itself.

She said: “German bombers came up the Forth – people say they were aiming for the bridge, but actually they wanted the ships. They didn’t want to bomb Rosyth because at that time they didn’t want to hit a lot of people.

“The bridge means everything to the local community. When you have been away and you come back and you see it, you know you’re home. It’s just a magnificent thing. All the hard work that went into building it, and all the loss of life.”

The Forth Bridge was the world’s first major steel structure and took eight years to complete, eventually spanning a total length of 8296 feet and reaching up to more than 100m at its highest level.

Throughout the rest of this week, a Network Rail team will guide 250 people to the top of its iconic towers in a bid to raise almost £40,000 for The Prince’s Trust.

Craig Bowman, senior communications manger for Network Rail, said: “Like all of our generous fundraisers, we’re looking forward to an inspiring week which helps celebrate the contribution that this wonderful structure has made to our lives during its 125-year history.

“We’re please to play a part in bringing the Forth Bridge Raid back into the public consciousness and we look forward to bringing more of the bridge’s history back to life during the next few months.”