When Paul Hewitt bought his new house, it was a bridge in the back garden with a railing that reminded him of the Forth Rail Bridge that was the clincher.
Now he has made a replica of the iconic landmark to take pride of place in his Glenrothes garden.
He said: “The bridge over the burn is what struck me with the idea when we moved in. Ever since then I wanted to make a steel one and put it as a feature in the garden. I thought, ‘I want this house and I want to make a miniature Forth Rail Bridge.”
As a plater – someone who prepares metal plates for welding in construction – Paul worked on the Forth Road Bridge in the late nineties and had always admired the rail bridge, which was built between 1882 and 1889.
He said: “Before we moved into this house we always had pictures of the rail bridge up.”
The technical lead for fabrication and welding at a Dunfermline company spent a painstaking two days carefully constructing the metre and a half high miniature.
Using carbon steel bars, he constructed the model after sketching out a template in detail – and got a little help from some welder colleagues for the finishing touches.
Paul, who lives with wife Louise; dogs, Charlie and Teddy, and cat, Milo, replaced the original wooden bridge with new timber and added decking lights underneath the feet of the mini-rail bridge.
Taking to Twitter with a debut tweet to show off his handiwork, he has been overwhelmed by the interest his DIY skills have brought him.
He said: “Lots of people are asking me to make them one. Every tweet I’ve had has been positive. I’m very appreciative of all the attention I’ve had. With it being my first tweet, I wasn’t expecting that.”
Some admirers have suggested he makes a replica road bridge for the other side of the bridge and a Queensferry Crossing to make up the trio.
He said: “I’m not sure if I’ll make any more. It depends if my wife allows me. That’s the main question.”
He can now add bridge-builder to his list of hobbies that also includes mountain biking, photography and dog walking.
The pictures of the replica, which Paul took himself, have reached staff at Amey who operate the Forth Bridges Unit on behalf of Transport Scotland. He is delighted that they have offered to provide him with the same red paint that is used on the bridge when it needs a touch up. He said: “They got in touch after seeing my tweet and offered to supply paint when mine requires a new coat.”
Designed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, the cantilever bridge spanning the Firth of Forth has become a symbol of Scotland and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Much like the original, Paul’s version was labour intensive and he’s not in a hurry to replicate it. He said: “It wasn’t until I started cutting the different parts that I knew it was going to take quite a while to do.
“I won’t make another one. It was made in my own time and the effort that went in outwith my working hours means I wouldn’t do that one again.”