Arrol Hydraulic Riveting Machine unveiled

Photograph of 3 people standing next to a piece of machinery suspended from a metal stand.

FoSH Committe members next to the Arrol riveting machine

Photograph of a riveting machine

Close up of the Arrol Hydraulic Riveter

Friends of Seafield House committee members were delighted to attend the unveiling of a hydraulic riveting machine at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Museum Scotland on the evening of the 27th March, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge being opened.

The riveting machine was designed by William Arrol to be used on bridge construction sites to give strong, consistent riveted joints. The riveter was suspended from a crane and could be used in a vertical or horizontal position. Power to drive the riveter was from hydraulics using compressed water.  Riveters like this were used to  drive home many of the 6.5 million rivets used to construct the Forth Bridge. Read this ICE leaflet for more information about the riveting machine.

The ICE Museum Scotland is housed in the Sir William Arrol Building at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh and holds a collection of almost 400 items relating to civil engineering, including a number of items relating to Sir William Arrol and the Forth Bridge.


125th Anniversary of Forth Bridge Opening

This week marked a special anniversary in the life of Sir William Arrol. It was 125 years ago on 4 March 1890 that the Forth Bridge was officially opened and that Sir William Arrol received his knighthood.

Photograph of Forth Bridge from South Queensferry shore

The bridge was a feat of engineering, designed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, and built by William Arrol & Company.  It took 8 years to complete and over 4, 000 men were involved in it’s construction. It took 54,000 tons of steel to build and at 2, 467 metres was the longest bridge  in the world when it was completed.

Front cover of the Illustrated London News from 8 March 1890

William Arrol assists the Prince of Wales to place the last rivet in the Forth Rail Bridge.

The bridge was opened by the Prince of Wales who drove the last rivet into the bridge with the assistance of William Arrol.  At the luncheon following the opening the Prince of Wales made a speech in which he announced that Queen Victoria had conferred a knighthood on William Arrol in recognition of his great achievement in the construction of the bridge.

A wonder of it’s age, the Bridge remains today a landmark structure and icon of British engineering.  A nomination for it to be given World Heritage Status has been submitted to  the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and  the decision is expected in June this year.

Further information on Sir William Arrol, his life and work, can be found on a new website which is currently under construction by one of the Friends of Seafield House committee.

Members of the Friends of Seafield House Committee are also looking forward to attending a lecture to mark the 125th Anniversary at the ICE Scotland Museum in the William Arrol Building at Heriot-Watt University on 27 March.  The lecture will focus on the Bridge’s lasting legacy and an original hydraulic riveting machine, used to bolt in many of the 7M rivets will also be unveiled at the event.