Half a capital and half a country town, the whole city leads a double existence; it has long trances of the one and flashes of the other; like the king of the Black Isles, it is half alive and half a monumental marble.”
― Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn
As someone from a particularly ‘bridgey’ town, I was intrigued by the three bridges of the Firth of Forth (roughly, a fjord above Edinburgh stretching to the North Sea). Each met a particular need of the time (spanned over three centuries)—railway and automobile in the early days and public transport, pedestrians, and cyclists currently.
The Queensferry Crossing opened to traffic on 30 August 2017. The 1.7 miles (2.7km) structure is the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world and also by far the largest to feature cables which cross mid-span, providing extra strength and stiffness, allowing the towers and the deck to be more slender and elegant. Autos, cycles, and pedestrians are accommodated.
The Forth Road Bridge is one of the world’s most significant long span suspension bridges. With a main span of 1006 metres between the two towers, it was the fourth longest in the world and the longest outside the United States when it opened in 1964. It is currently purposed for public transport use.
Opened in 1890, the Forth Bridge is a Scottish icon that is recognised the world over as the most famous of cantilever designs. The world’s first major steel structure, the Forth Bridge represents a key milestone in the history of modern railway civil engineering and still holds the record as the world’s longest cantilever bridge. We sailed beneath it, but the views from any train crossing it must be remarkable.