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Sir John Fowler – one the engineers behind the iconic Forth Bridge – was born on this day 202 years ago.
His work boasted a contribution to the design and building of the London Metropolitan Railway but his most famous and record-breaking project remains one of the best-loved rail bridges in Britain.
The Forth Bridge was a milestone in the development of railway civil engineering. Two hundred trains use the bridge each day, carrying a total of three million passengers a year, according to Transport Scotland.
It was the first major structure in Britain made of steel and its construction resulted in a continuous East Coast railway route from London to Aberdeen.
The first crossing of the Forth Bridge by the railway came in 1850 when the Edinburgh, Leith and Granton Railway started the world’s first ‘train ferry’ – a ferry boat specially designed by Thomas Bouch to take railway coaches – between Granton and Burntisland.
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In August 1873, the North British Railway obtained authority to build a railway bridge across the Firth of Forth and construction of a suspension bridge, also designed by Thomas Bouch, began in 1878.
However, work on his bridge across the Forth stopped immediately pending a full inquiry when Bouch’s original Tay Bridge in Dundee collapsed during a storm in December 1879.
His suspension bridge plans were abandoned in 1881 and the newly formed Forth Bridge Railway Company invited new designs.
The bridge would cross the Forth between South Queensferry – now part of Edinburgh and North Queensferry in Fife – making use of the island of Inch Garvie.
Its design had to conform to specifications from the Admiralty, which stipulated the Forth remained a navigable channel. It also needed to satisfy the Board of Trade, which said the bridge must be rigid, stiff and able to carry the heaviest freight trains, following the recent disaster at the Tay Bridge.
John Fowler and his partner Benjamin Baker developed a cantilevered design that accounted for these restrictions. The contract for its construction was let to Messers Arrol & Co of Glasgow in 1882 and work on the bridge started in 1883.
The Prince of Wales – later King Edward VII – formally opened the bridge on 4 March 1890. He drove home a final, gold-plated rivet and at the same ceremony knighted Benjamin Baker.
The post Happy birthday Sir John Fowler appeared first on Network Rail.
This article first appeared on www.networkrail.co.uk
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