This is the iconic Forth Rail Bridge. It spans the Forth of Firth from South Queensferry, west of Edinburgh, to North Queensferry in Fife. It is a cantilever bridge and was the world’s first major steel structure. It still holds the record for the world’s longest cantilever bridge at a span of 2,467 metres (2698 yards). The bridge received UNESCO World Heritage status in July 2015, making it the sixth such site in Scotland.
At the height of construction, roughly 4,000 men were employed in the building of the bridge. It consists of three separate four-tower high, double-cantilevers. These cantilevers are connected by 350 ft long girders. All of this is connected to the main bridge structure using enormous rivets. The bridge is supported by granite piers.
In all, 53,000 tons of steel, 6.5 million rivets and 120,000 yards of concrete were used in the building of the bridge. The concrete and masonry of the piers is faced with 2-foot-thick granite. During the construction, 58 men lost their lives, and a memorial has been erected at South Queensferry naming these victims.
The painted area of the bridge is roughly 230,000 square metres and while folklore would have it that men paint the bridge from south to north and then turn and paint from north to south all year, the reality is that the paint used is durable enough to last 20-25 years.
Over 200 trains cross over the bridge each day. There is a double track so that trains may pass in each direction. My grandfather told his children that the trains went up and over the girders, much like a rollercoaster, which was enough to deter them from crossing over to Fife!