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Key facts about the Forth Bridge

Forth Bridge vital statistics


  • The Forth Bridge is owned and operated by Network Rail and is a key part of the Scottish rail network
  • It was one of the first cantilever bridges in Britain, and Britain’s first all-steel bridge
  • Category A listed Victorian engineering icon
  • In operation since opening in 1890
  • Original designers – Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker
  • Original contractor – Tancred, Arrol & Co
  • It’s a 53,000 tonne bridge
  • The two main spans of 521m were for 28 years the longest and second longest bridge spans in the world
  • It stretches to 110 metres above high water at the top of each cantilever, and is 2.5km in length
  • It sees 200 train movements daily

Restoration vital statistics


  • A major restoration began in 2002 and lasted 10 years, with investment of £130 million
  • 4,000 tonnes of scaffolding were used
  • A total 4.5 million working hours were spent on the restoration
  • 1,550 people were employed since 2002
  • At its peak up to 400 tradesmen were employed
  • 240,000 litres of paint were used in the first ever complete repainting of the bridge
  • The steelwork was recoated with a high-tech three-coat system
  • The three-part coating system originated from the North Sea oil industry where it has been used to protect offshore structures in severe marine environments
  • The topcoat will last for at least 20 years and was mixed to ‘Forth Bridge Red’ to match the original red oxide colour used in 1890
  • Forth Bridge Red Paint – it would cost you £6 per m2 to apply the paint to a wall in your home but putting it on the bridge, due to the difficulties of access, costs around £370 per m2