by Phil Marsh

The Bridge gains landmark status

Published: 9th July 2015

125th anniversary World Heritage award for Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge has been declared to be a Unesco World Heritage Site by a committee of the United Nations, meeting at Bonn in Germany.

Network Rail’s list of every British railway bridge gives each a reference number, except the Forth Bridge which is listed simply as “The Bridge”.

Its unique status has now been recognised by the UN’s heritage committee, which awarded Word Heritage status to the steel and granite structure on 5 July, during a three-day meeting in Germany.

The 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge has been getting celebrated by special events this year, but the international recognition is likely to be hailed as the most memorable occasion. “Like painting the Forth Bridge” has gone into the language to represent a never-ending task but that is no longer the case on “The Bridge” itself where a recent major project has applied the traditional red oxide colour for a long-term job.

The Forth Bridge was built between 1883 and 1890 by Arrol & Co of Glasgow to the designs of John Fowler and Benjamin Baker. At the time, it was the world’s longest cantilever bridge with multiple spans. It runs for more than 2,500 metres between Queensferry on the west side of Edinburgh and North Queensferry across the Firth of Forth in Fife.

Among diesel-powered trains crossing the Forth Bridge every day are ScotRail services between Edinburgh and stations in Fife such as Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline Town, and also to and from Perth, Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen. CrossCountry and Virgin Trains East Coast also run regular passenger trains across the Forth Bridge, which was opened on 4 March 1890 by the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII.

Occasional passenger steam specials also cross. Freight trains are less frequent than they used to be, because coal trains to Longannet Power Station are now usually routed via Stirling and Alloa to free capacity on other tracks for more passenger trains, including across the Forth Bridge.

There are more than 1,000 World Heritage sites in more than 160 countries. Previous Scottish landmarks to be given the award are the Neolithic sites on Orkney, the Antonine Wall in central Scotland, New Lanark, St Kilda and Edinburgh’s city centre, embracing the Scottish capital’s Old Town and New Town.

The award is a highly appropriate anniversary present!

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