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Forth Bridge awarded World Heritage Site status

Words: Laura Edgar

The Forth Bridge is now officially a UNESCO World Heritage Site - becoming Scotland’s sixth site to be awarded the status.

The 125-year-old cantilever rail bridge joins Edinburgh Old and New Towns, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, New Lanark, the Antonine Wall and St Kilda.

Spanning the Firth of Forth on the east coast of Scotland, the bridge opened in 1890 after eight years of construction. It was designed by Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker.

The award was announced during the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany. The bid for World Heritage Status was taken forward by the Forth Bridges Forum, which was established by the Scottish Government to promote the three Forth Bridges.

“Spanning two-and-a-half kilometres and comprising 53,000 tonnes of mild steel, the Forth Bridge is a monument to innovative industry and engineering” – Nicola Sturgeon

In a statement on the UNESCO website, the bridge is described as “innovative in style, materials and scale”.

It continues: “The Forth Bridge is an important milestone in bridge design and construction during the period when railways came to dominate long-distance land travel.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it is fitting that the Forth Bridge has been recognised as a World Heritage Site as it “is known as one of the industrial wonders of the world”.

Sturgeon added: “The Forth Bridge is an outstanding example of Scotland’s built heritage and its endurance is testament not only to the ingenuity of those who designed and built it, but also to the generations of painters, engineers and maintenance crews who have looked after it through the years.” 

The Forth Bridge is owned by Network Rail. Infrastructure director at the company David Dickson said the bridge is a “prime example of civil engineering and an iconic structure”.