Tay Bridge

(Tay Railway Bridge)

Tay Railway Bridge
©2023 Gazetteer for Scotland

Tay Railway Bridge

Carrying the railway line from London and Edinburgh to Dundee and Aberdeen, the Tay Bridge (or Tay Railway Bridge) crosses the Tay estuary from Wormit in Fife to the City of Dundee. Opened for the North British Railway on 11th July 1887, this 85-span truss bridge was designed by English engineer William Henry Barlow and built by William Arrol & Co. It comprises 25,000 tons of wrought iron and steel, 70,000 tons of concrete, ten million bricks and three million rivets. The bridge carries two railway tracks and is 3286m (3593 yards) long although, remarkably, its length can vary by as much as 1.14m (3¾ feet) due to thermal expansion. When completed it was the longest bridge in the world and remains the longest in Britain. It took this record from a previous single-track bridge which was completed in 1878 to a design by Sir Thomas Bouch (1822-80). The central section of the former bridge collapsed during a violent storm on the night of 28th December 1879, killing all the passengers and crew of a train which was passing over the bridge at the time, a total of 75 individuals. An exhaustive enquiry into the Tay Bridge Disaster concluded that the bridge was "badly designed, badly built and badly maintained". The stumps of this old bridge can still be seen a few metres to the east of the present bridge.

Having deteriorated over a number of years, the bridge was subject to a £20 million strengthening and refurbishment programme in 2003.

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