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Visit to the Tay Railway Bridge - Tuesday 18 May 2010

the Tay Railway Bridged

The Tay Railway Bridge.

© John Fender, 2011

Scottish Region Members took part in an oganised visit to the Tay Railway Bridge on Tuesday 18 May 2010 during which they had an opportunity to walk across the bridge and see the maintenance work that is in progress.

The walk across the Tay Bridge, at 3264 metres the longest railway bridge in the Commonwealth, in glorious sunshine on 18 May fulfilled a lifetime's ambition for the ten who took part led by Network Rail's Ian Heigh and Iain Simms of contractor ThyssenKrupp Palmer's.

The group saw work under way on the current £20M contract which involves steelwork being stripped back to bare metal and then covered with a weather-resistant paint.

Scottish Region members on top of the Tay Railway Bridged

Scottish Region members on top of the Tay Railway Bridge

© John Yellowlees, 2010

The contract will see 70,000 sq m of wrought iron, cast iron and steel stripped back to the bare metal and a new weather resistant glass epoxy based paint applied to preserve the bridge for future generations.

Debris from the work is carefully captured and removed by barge - it is testament to the quality of the original steel, wrought and cast iron that the amounts are so little.

The product of Victorian rivalry which pushed a line up Scotland's east coast across the Firths of Forth and Tay, the first Bridge brought about a crisis of confidence in the engineering profession when it collapsed on a wild night in December 1879, taking the lives of all in a train which was at that moment passing through its high girders.

The stumps of the failed structure can still be seen from its successor opened in 1887 which embodies the lessons learned from its weakness while recycling much of its material.

Scottish Region members examining the high girders on the Tay Railway Bridge.d

Scottish Region members examining the high girders on the Tay Railway Bridge.

© John Yellowlees, 2010

Construction of the bridge involved 25,000 metric tons of iron and steel, 70,000 metric tons of concrete, ten million bricks weighing 37,500 metric tons and 3 million rivets, and fourteen men lost their lives, most by drowning.

Now the Tay Bridge has a continuing future carrying trains linking Edinburgh with Dundee and Aberdeen, and its restoration is also appreciated for the security of employment that it brings to the hundred-strong workforce working on the contract which runs until 2012.

The Scottish Region would like to thank Network Rail for enabling the visit to take place.

Report and photographs 2 and 3 by John Yellowlees.
Photograph 1 by John Fender


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