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Growth and milestones

The making of an icon: The Forth Bridge and Scottish identity


From its opening in 1890 the Forth Bridge was a tourist attraction and it remains an important part of Scottish built heritage today, with people from all over the world coming to cross it and to view the iconic marvel of engineering.

  • During 1894 the bridge carried 26,451 passenger trains, 18,777 goods trains and 2678 light engines, with a total weight of 7,492,833 tons
  • In 1907, 29,675 passenger trains crossed
  • In 2000 a total of 54,080 passenger trains and 6240 freight trains crossed, with a total weight of 10,500,000 tons.

1935: The Forth Bridge was featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film ‘The 39 Steps’, and in the 1959 remake – despite there being no reference to it in the original book by John Buchan.

1939: At the start of the Second World War the first German air attack on Britain took place over the Forth Bridge. The bridge itself was not the target, though, and was unharmed.

1973: The Forth Bridge was statutorily listed at category A, confirming it as of national or international importance and providing it with the highest level of statutory protection. Its place in previous lists was given statutory force by the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972.

1990: The bridge was floodlit as part of its centenary celebrations.

1998: A countdown clock to the millennium was placed on the bridge.

1999: New floodlighting scheme from gantries just above water line. The Forth Bridge was included in the first UK tentative list of properties that may be put forward for World Heritage Listing.

2004: The Forth Bridge appeared on the 2004 issue of the one pound coin, with each component country being represented by a bridge, and in the Bank of Scotland’s 2007 £20 note.

2005: The bridge was lit up in red for BBC’s Comic Relief.

2006: 190 to 200 trains a day crossed the bridge.

2011: The Forth Bridge was included by the UK Government in its second tentative list of properties which may eventually be nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

2012: Major recoating work concluded with the removal of the last scaffolding encasement from the bridge.

The Forth Bridge has even made the leap into modern computer games, appearing in a renamed version in a Grand Theft Auto game and being the inspiration for the design of a bridge in a Pokémon game.