The Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland, 9 miles (14 kilometres) west of Edinburgh City Centre. It is considered an iconic structure and a symbol of Scotland. Its construction began in 1882 and was opened on 4 March 1890 by the Prince of Wales. The bridge spans the Forth between the villages of South Queensferry and North Queensferry and has a total length of 8,296 feet (2,528.7 m). It was the longest single cantilever bridge span in the world until 1917 when the Quebec Bridge in Canada was completed. It continues to be world's second-
Wilhelm Westhofen said of it "and this quantity [of iron] distributed over the length would have given it a very light and slender appearance, so light indeed that on a dull day it would hardly have been visible, and after a heavy gale probably no longer to be seen on a clear day either." Thomas Bouch designed for the Edinburgh and Northern Railway a roll-
The Bill for the construction of the bridge was passed on 19 May 1882 after an eight day enquiry, the only objections being from rival railway companies. On 21 December of that year, the contract was let to Sir Thomas Tancred, Mr. T. H. Falkiner and Mr. Joseph Philips, civil engineers and contractor, and Sir William Arrol & Co. Arrol was a self-
At its peak, approximately 4,600 workers were employed in its construction. Wilhelm Westhofen recorded in 1890 that 57 lives were lost; but in 2005 the Forth Bridge Memorial Committee was set up to erect a monument to the briggers, and a team of local historians set out to name all those who died. As of 2009, 73 deaths have been connected with the construction of the bridge and its immediate aftermath. It is thought that the figure of 57 deaths excluded those who died working on the approaches to the bridge, as those parts were completed by a subcontractor, as well as those who died after the Sick and Accident Club stopped. Of the 73 recorded deaths, 38 were as a result of falling, 9 of being crushed, 9 drowned, 8 struck by a falling object, 3 died in a fire in a bothy, 1 of caisson disease, and the cause of five deaths is unknown.
Floodlighting was installed in 1991, and the track was renewed between 1992 and 1995. The bridge was costing British Rail £1 million a year to maintain, and they announced that the schedule of painting would be interrupted to save money, and the following year, upon privatisation, Railtrack took over. A £40 million package of works commenced in 1998, and in 2002 the responsibility of the bridge was passed to Network Rail. Work started in 2002 to repaint the bridge fully for the first time in its history, in a £130 million contract awarded to Balfour Beatty. Up to 4,000 tonnes (3,900 long tons; 4,400 short tons) of scaffolding was on the bridge at any time, and computer modelling was used to analyse the additional wind load on the structure. The bridge was encapsulated in a climate controlled membrane to give the proper conditions for the application of the paint. All previous layers of paint were removed using copper slag fired at up to 200 miles per hour (320 km/h), exposing the steel and allowing repairs to be made. The paint, developed specifically for the bridge by Leigh Paints, consisted of a system of three coats derived from that used in the North Sea oil industry. 240,000 litres (53,000 imp gal; 63,000 US gal) of paint was applied to 255,000 square metres (2,740,000 sq ft) of the structure, and it is not expected to need repainting for at least 20 years. The top coat can be reapplied indefinitely, minimising future maintenance work. The Bridge Experience Website
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