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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Sir William Arrol on new polymer banknote launched by Clydesdale Bank

Image showing a specimen of the front of the £5 note

The new banknote featuring Sir William Arrol  © Clydesdale Bank

Friends of Seafield House (FoSH) welcomes the news that the Clydesdale Bank has today unveiled a commemorative £5 note to mark the nomination of the Forth Rail Bridge for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List and Sir William Arrol’s role in the construction of this iconic bridge. As the release from the Clydesdale says:

“[This] will be the first fully polymer banknote to enter circulation in Great Britain. Introduced to commemorate the nomination of the Forth Bridge for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014, the new £5 banknote combines images of the bridge’s structure with the use of modern technology to create a striking and complex design … in keeping with the Bank’s award winning World Heritage Series, [the note] also features the image of a prominent and innovative Scot in its design. A portrait of Sir William Arrol, one of Scotland’s most celebrated engineers, appears on the front of the note. His company – Sir William Arrol and Co. – constructed the Forth Bridge and was also responsible for a number of other famous structures including the giant cantilever Titan Crane in Clydebank which also features on the new note.”

The limited production run of the new polymer notes is scheduled to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the opening of the bridge in March 2015, with two million notes to be issued through Clydesdale Bank branches.

In its release, Clydesdale Bank included a quote from Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for
Culture and External Affairs, who said in welcoming the launch of the banknote:

“Today we are celebrating two eras of Scotland’s innovation and foresight. The introduction of this innovative new banknote featuring the iconic Forth Bridge as a symbol of Scotland’s engineering heritage and ingenuity is very welcome. We are immensely proud of the Forth Bridge and its nomination for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The launch of this banknote is such a fitting way to mark this nomination and Sir William Arrol’s work and I applaud the Clydesdale Bank for this gesture.”

FoSH Patron, Andrew Arrol, said today:

“This is a fantastic piece of good news and very well deserved. It is entirely appropriate that one of Scotland’s greatest engineering achievements should be commemorated in this way.”

Kirsty Menzies, an Arrol relative & FoSH Committee Member said:

“I am thrilled and proud that Sir William Arrol is featured on the note. With his induction into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame and now being featured on a banknote, Sir William is finally getting the recognition that he has long deserved. The banknote design embodies a great image of the Scottish pioneering spirit and invention.”

For further information on the release from the Clydesdale Bank, please contact Kay McCarthy The BIG Partnership 0141 333 9585/07736 774338 or Roanna Katz, The BIG Partnership, 0141 333 9585 / 07846 786 265

For further information on Friends of Seafield House, please contact Lianne Hackett, FoSH Secretary on info@friends-of-seafield-house.org.uk or 07796466384

Professor Charles McKean

Friends of Seafield House (FoSH) were saddened to hear of the death of architectural historian, Professor Charles McKean on 29th September 2013.

Charles McKean was a professor of Scottish Architectural History at the University of Dundee.  He was the author of many books, including “Battle for the North”, a study of the war between the two rival railway companies, the North British and the Caledonian, to offer the fastest route from London to Aberdeen and the north of Scotland. In this book Charles McKean, highlighted the vital role that William Arrol had played in ensuring the successful construction of both the new Tay Bridge and the Forth Railway Bridge. In addition to his teaching and research, Charles McKean took an active role in several organisations which supported the preservation of of Scottish architectural heritage and he had been very generous in offering advice to FoSH on the campaign to save Seafield House.

Read his obituary in The Herald.

Forth Bridge Photographic Competition

The Forth Bridges Forum is looking for entries for their photo competition for the Forth Rail Bridge.   Sir William Arrol was the contractor for the bridge which was built between 1883 and 1889.   Photographs entered into the competition will help with the Management Plan that will form part of the Forth Bridge’s World Heritage Nomination to UNESCO.

There are two categories:

Best Contemporary Photograph, to find the best views of the Bridge

Best Historical Photograph, to showcase old family pictures of the Forth Bridge

The winners of the competitions will be able to claim  a VIP visit to the Forth Bridge. Winners will also receive a copy of the recently published book ‘Forth Bridge: Restoring an Icon’.

Further details and instructions to submit an entry can be found on the Forth Bridges Forum website.

Closing date for entries is 30 September 2013.

Forth Rail Bridge opened 123 years ago on 4 March 1890

Front cover of the Illustrated London News from 8 March 1890

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

On the 4th March 1890 the Forth Rail Bridge was opened by the Prince of Wales.

A public holiday had been declared in the local towns and a mass of people gathered to watch the royal train arrive and cross the bridge.

The bridge was a feat of engineering, designed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, and built by Sir William Arrol. 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.

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 2015.