Forth Bridge: Another scaffolding-free shot of the Forth Bridge, this one taken on 5 November 2012. Nice and shiny in it's new paint too! See image 40857
Brian Taylor 05/11/2012

Forth Bridge

Location type


Name and dates

Forth Bridge (1890-)

Opened on the Forth Bridge Railway.


This double track bridge consists of three double cantilevers approached by viaducts at either end. Overall it is 1.5 miles long. The bridge crosses the Firth of Forth between Dalmeny and North Queensferry. The bridge is known for its red colour, originally from the red oxide paint used.

The cantilevers were engineered by Benjamin Baker and John Fowler. The approach viaducts were engineered by James Carsewell. The contractor was William Arrol. Construction began in 1882 and the bridge opened in 1890, with the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) driving the last ceremonial rivet.


Bridge Cantilever

External links

Canmore site record
NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67

Nearby stations
New Halls
South Queensferry Halt
South Queensferry [1st]
North Queensferry [1st]
North Queensferry
Port Edgar
Dalmeny [1st]
Inverkeithing [1st]
Rosyth Dockyard
Dalgety Bay
Donibristle Platform
Battery Quarry
Port Edgar Harbour
Rosshill Shale Mine
North British Creosote Works
St Margaret^s Tunnel
Dalmeny Junction
North Queensferry Tunnel
Castlandhill Siding
Hawes Pier
Forth Bridge North Signal Box
Port Edgar East Naval Pier
Port Edgar Pier
Carlingnose Submarine Mining Pier
Port Edgar West Naval Pier
Port Laing Submarine Mines Depot
Location names in dark blue are on the same original line.

Forth Bridge in figures

Whole bridge
Overall length2766 yards
Cost£ 3,000,000
Main structure
CaissonsFour per tower
Rail height over high water156 ft
Height of towers over high water361 ft
Tower main tubes diameter12 ft
Steel50,958 tons
Rivets8,000,000 (estimated)
Approach viaducts
Southern viaductFour arches, ten girders
Northern viaductFive girders, three arches


A considerable number of rivets were used in the building of the Forth Bridge. Estimates vary between 6.5 and 8 million. The last rivet was driven by the Prince of Wales on the opening day, 4 March 1890.

Chronology Dates

  /  /1879Forth Bridge Railway
Sir Thomas Bouch loses the contract to build the Forth Bridge after collapse of his Tay Bridge [1st].
  /  /1890William Arrol & Co
Complete the Forth Bridge.
  /  /1898Cowdenbeath North Junction to Lumphinnans Central Junction (North British Railway)
Line authorised, in connection with the Forth Bridge.
  /  /2000Forth Bridge Railway
Painting of the Forth Bridge's northern approach spans begins.
06/11/2001Virgin Trains
Press trip around Fife by new Virgin Voyagers. (Voyagers first crossed the Forth Bridge on the 30th of October.)
  /03/2004Edinburgh Airport Rail Link
Proposed scheme would have a station under Edinburgh Airport served by a link off the Forth Bridge Connecting Lines (North British Railway) and the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway and the Forth Bridge lines. The layout would be southern approaches (both approached from the east) from South Gyle and Gogar combining and passing under Edinburgh Airport before dividing with a western link to Humbie Signal Box and northern link to Dalmeny South Junction. This layout would allow trains from Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street High Level to serve the station and the line to the north from Edinburgh to Fife, Aberdeen and Inverness over the Forth Bridge. The estimated cost was £500M.
12/01/2005Forth Bridge Railway
All First ScotRail services over the Forth Bridge are cancelled during a severe storm.
19/05/2008Stirling and Dunfermline Railway
Kincardine Branch (North British Railway)
The railway between Stirling and Alloa re-opens to passengers. The line between Stirling and Longannet Power Station via Alloa re-opens to freight providing an alternative route to the Forth Bridge.
09/12/2011Forth Bridge Railway
Painting of the Forth Bridge completed. Network Rail suggests no further painting to be required until 2031-36. A glass flake epoxy paint used by Balfour Beatty.
  /02/2019Forth Bridge Railway
A gantry is installed below the Forth Bridge for repairs to stress defects.

News items

20/10/2023Luxurious Edinburgh steam train experience will see guests cross Forth Bridge in style [Edinburgh Live]
24/07/2023Incredible nostalgic pictures of Scotland from above [Daily Record]
13/06/2023Forth Bridge team provides lifesaving equipment in North Queensferry [Network Rail]
28/02/2023Video: Forth Bridge named Yesterday Railway Bridge of the Year [Dunfermline Press]
23/02/2023West Fife: Network Rail reveal condition of Forth Bridge [Dunfermline Press]
11/02/2023Edinburgh to Fife train services 'severely disrupted' due to defect on Forth Bridge [Edinburgh Live]
28/10/2022Vintage Forth Bridge railway poster sells for £12,600 [The Courier]
08/10/2022North Queensferry: More than 700 people take in views atop the Forth Bridge in charity event [Dunfermline Press]
30/09/2022Scots couple get engaged 360ft in air at peak of Forth Rail Bridge [Daily Record]
18/09/2022North Queensferry: Residents concerned over issues with Forth Bridge works [Dunfermline Press]


100 Years of the Forth Bridge

An Illustrated History of Edinburgh's Railways

Battle for the North: The Tay and Forth Bridges and the 19th Century Railway Wars

Battle for the North: The Tay and Forth Bridges and the 19th-Century Railway Wars: The Building of the Tay and Forth Bridges and the 19th Century Railway Wars

Bridge Across the Century: Story of the Forth Bridge

Edinburgh To Inverkeithing.: including The Port Edgar, North Queensferry And Rosyth Dockyard Branches. (Scottish Main Lines.)

Forth Bridge: A Picture History

Forth Railway Bridge: A Celebration

Forth Railway Bridge: A Celebration

How They Built The Forth Railway Bridge A Victorian Magic Lantern Show

John Fowler, Benjamin Baker: Forth Bridge (Opus)

Steamers of the Forth: Ferry Crossings and River Sailings, Vol. 1

The Briggers: The Story of the Men Who Built the Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge (Souvenir Guide) (Souvenir guides)

The Forth Bridge: A Picture History

The Forth Bridge: A Picture History

The Forth Bridges Through Time