The Queensferry Crossing which is due to open today looks remarkably like the earliest design for a bridge over the Forth at Queensferry, an academic has said.
Bruce Gittings, of Edinburgh University, said the 199-year-old plans for a “bridge of chains” had made him – and his students – do a double take. They were devised by Edinburgh-born engineer James Anderson, who was inspired by his friend Thomas Telford’s designs for the Menai Strait bridge in North Wales.
Anderson claimed his bridge would “facilitate the communication between the southern and northern divisions of Scotland”. However, Mr Gittings said Anderson’s bridge was never built and would probably have been over-ambitious for its time.
The National Library of Scotland, which displayed the plans in an exhibition two years ago, said they were the earliest known.
Mr Gittings, of the university’s school of geosciences, came across the “Bridge of Chains proposed to be thrown over the Frith [stet] of Forth” while he was researching bridges to add to his online Gazetteer for Scotland – a project to record every settlement and landmark in the country.
He said: “When I saw the plans, I though oh gosh, that does look remarkably like the bridge that’s opening.
“Some of my students also asked me if they were plans for the new bridge. The scale and construction are completely different but they do look very similar.
“If Anderson’s bridge had been built, it is unlikely to have survived long. It would have been an enormous challenge and was ambitious for its time.”
Some 80,000 vehicles are expected to cross during today’s opening of the £1.35 billion Queensferry Crossing which follows a light show on Monday night to mark the symbolic handover to the Scottish Government.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took part in a procession of vintage, modern and electric vehicles across the bridge and thanked workers for their efforts before she switched on the lights.
She said: “I can’t tell you how emotional it feels to be standing on this stunning Queensferry Crossing.
“It is here to do a job and keep our country connected but it is much more than that. This bridge will be one of the greatest bridges in the world, no, scrub that, this bridge is the greatest bridge in the world.”
A sustainable transport group called on ministers to ensure bus services are boosted over the Forth Road Bridge after traffic is switched to the new crossing.