Tay Rail Bridge

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The Tay Bridge (sometimes unofficially the Tay Rail Bridge) is a railway bridge approximately two and a quarter miles (three and a half kilometres) long[1] that spans the Firth of Tay in Scotland, between the city of Dundee and the suburb of Wormit in Fife (grid reference NO391277).

As with the Forth Bridge, the Tay Bridge has also been called the Tay Rail Bridge since the construction of a road bridge over the firth, the Tay Road Bridge. The rail bridge replaced an early train ferry.

"Tay Bridge" was also the codename for the funeral plans for Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother[2].

Contents

The first Tay Bridge

The original Tay Bridge was designed by noted railway engineer Thomas Bouch, who received a knighthood following the bridge's completion.[3] It was a lattice-grid design, combining cast and wrought iron. The design was well known, having been used first by Kennard in the Crumlin Viaduct in South Wales in 1858[citation needed], following the innovative use of cast iron in The Crystal Palace. However, the Crystal Palace was not as heavily loaded as a railway bridge. A previous cast iron design, the Dee bridge which collapsed in 1847, failed due to poor use of cast-iron girders. Later, Gustave Eiffel used a similar design to create several large viaducts in the Massif Central (1867).

Proposals for constructing a bridge across the River Tay date back to at least 1854. The North British Railway (Tay Bridge) Act received the Royal Assent on 15 July 1870 and the foundation stone was laid on 22 July 1871. As the bridge extended out into the river, it shortly became clear that the original survey of the estuary had not been competent. The bedrock, at a shallow depth near the banks, was found to descend deeper and deeper, until it was too deep to act as a foundation for the bridge piers. Bouch had to redesign the piers, and to set them very deep in the estuary bed to compensate for having no support underneath. He also reduced the number of piers by making the spans of the superstructure girders longer than he had originally planned. The first engine crossed the bridge on 22 September 1877, and upon its completion in early 1878 the Tay Bridge was the longest in the world. The bridge was opened on 1 June 1878.[4]

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