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Visit to the Institution of Civil Engineers Scottish Museum with Professor David McGuigan, Heriot-Watt University: Tuesday 16 May 2023

The CILT Group visiting the Institution of Civil Engineers Museum.d

The CILT Group visiting the Institution of Civil Engineers Museum.

© John Yellowlees

The Institution of Civil Engineers Museum at Heriot-Watt University boasts over 400 items ranging from original Telford letters, specimens of iron from 19th century world-record bridge spans and portraits of the great railway-building duo Grainger and Miller to surveying and drawing instruments such as theodolites, flow-meters and aids to calculation.

A transit instrument with 30-inch telescope set out the line and level of the Talla Aqueduct in Peeblesshire. A brass water-flow meter came from the office of the Lighthouse Stevensons. A Michaelis double-lever machine was used for testing the tensile strength of concrete or mortar briquette samples. A winch operated self-acting sluices on a land reclamation scheme installed by Telford when building The Mound to convey the A9 across the mouth of Loch Fleet in Sutherland. A display-board recalls identification of the Soliton Wave by John Scott Russell, whose name is now borne by the aqueduct that carries the Union Canal across the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass.

There are a number of items relating to the Forth bridges, including a scale-model of a Forth Bridge skewback, a spare pin for the eight used to secure the suspended truss on the cantilevers and a hydraulic riveting machine on loan from the National Railway Museum, while a cable-model and anchor plate represent the Queensferry Crossing. A nameplate "The Institution of Civil Engineers" was carried by locomotive 90029. There is also a replica of a plaque that recalls the restoration led in 1996 of the first viaduct on a public railway, at Laigh Milton in Ayrshire from where part of a cast-iron plate rail is displayed with a contemporary chair, spike and stone block. A replica of an original wrought-iron link from the Menai Bridge was made by Heriot-Watt technicians.

A photographic portrait by Lafayette in a meeting room is of Forth Bridge engineer Sir William Arrol. Outside the west door of the William Arrol Building may be seen a ship's rudder used as an anchor-plate on the demolished footbridge at Gattonside, bearings from the Bilston Glen Viaduct in Midlothian and a 5-ft cast-iron milepost that came from the A1 near Dunbar.

The Scottish Region thanks Professor David McGuigan for making our group so welcome and showing us round.

Report by John Yellowlees.


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