Did you know an incredible 4500 workers took eight years to finally build the Forth Rail Bridge in 1890?
Did you know the need for a road bridge stretching over the Firth of Forth first came to light in the 1920s with the rising popularity of the private car?
And did you know the proposals for a second Forth road crossing were first put forward in the 1990s?
These and many other fascinating facts about the Forth road and rail bridges are set to feature in a major new interactive exhibition which opens next month.
‘SPAN – A Tale of Three Bridges’ has been specially created by Fife Cultural Trust and will – for the first time – bring the extraordinary story of all three bridges vividly to life.
The display is being showcased at Deep Sea World at North Queensferry from Saturday, June 11.
Gavin Grant, collections and exhibitions team leader, Fife Cultural Trust, said: “The exhibition looks at three of the bridges across the Forth – the iconic Rail Bridge, which was recently awarded World Heritage Status; the Road Bridge which opened in the 1960s and the brand new Queensferry Crossing which is rapidly nearing completion.
“The display starts by looking at how intrepid early travellers, like the pilgrims of the Middle Ages, crossed the Forth by ferry. We then look at the great feats of engineering involved in building each of these amazing bridges.”
Gavin continued: “The exhibition is family friendly – it has interpretation panels, rarely-seen historic photographs, large and dramatic images, film footage, a recently-created model of the Rail Bridge and interactive activities for all the family.”
He said the trust aims to appeal to all age groups with younger visitors being offered the chance to dress up as Peter, the Victorian rivet boy, who worked on the Rail Bridge, and they can wear the clothes of a modern bridge builder. There will also be a giant jigsaw.
The amazing stories and images of the workers involved in the construction of the bridges are also included, with particular mention given to the incredible number of 4500 workers who built the Rail Bridge.
The category A-listed Victorian structure was one of the first cantilever bridges in the country and Britain’s first all-steel bridge. It has been operating since 1890.
Last year the iconic bridge was officially designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and now enjoys the same status as Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
Meanwhile, the Forth Road Bridge has been carrying traffic and pedestrians across the Firth of Forth since 1964.
Its total length of 2.5km made it the longest bridge of its kind outside the United States at the time of its completion.
However, structural issues with the bridge resulted in a decision to proceed with a replacement bridge and following the findings of the Forth Replacement Crossing Study and public consultations, construction on the Queensferry Crossing began in September 2011.
Gavin said the trust felt it was the opportune time to celebrate the bridges, particularly with work finishing this year on the new crossing.
He said: “The bridges have become great symbols and sources of inspiration. They appeal to people on many levels – they are wonderful examples of engineering and technology and they have also appealed to artists and writers.
“As the Queensferry Crossing is currently being constructed it seemed an ideal time to create a new exhibition about crossing the Forth.”
Adrian Duffey, from Deep Sea World, said: “We were delighted when we were approached to host this new exhibition.
“The aquarium, with its location directly below the bridge, is the perfect place to celebrate the rich history and the exciting future of these amazing structures.”
Adrian added: “We’re proud to be staging such an exciting new exhibition which will promote and celebrate the bridges and their legacy, not just here in Scotland, but around the world.”
New crossing on schedule
The Queensferry Crossing is due to open to the public this December.
It will be a cable-stayed bridge, with an overall length of 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles).
Around 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) of new connecting roads are being built, including new and upgraded junctions at Ferrytoll in Fife.
Nancy Sidhu, sales and marketing manager at Deep Sea World, said: “With work on the second road crossing nearing completion we thought it was the perfect moment to celebrate both the rich heritage of the bridges’ past and the exciting innovations and developments that will help secure their future.”
‘SPAN – A Tale of Three Bridges’ opens at Deep Sea World on June 11 and will run until Sunday, August 28. It is free to visitors to the aquarium.