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 SirWilliamArrol.scot 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.

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