Old Images of the Forth Bridge at Queensferry

Categorised as West Lothian
1930s dunlop calendar picture of Flying Scotsman and Forth Rail Bridge
Old picture of the Flying Scotsman travelling over the Forth Rail Bridge, from a 1930s Dunlop Calendar

Glimpse history through old images of the Forth Rail Bridge at Queensferry, Scotland.

In the distant past, Queensferry had the Gaelic name of Taobh a Deas Chas Chaolais or Chas Chaolais, meaning the Steep Strait, clearly taken directly from the geography of the area. The English name refers instead to a vital transport system established here a thousand years ago.

Before the building of the bridges across the Firth of Forth, all traffic had to either take a lengthy detour round the waters, or cross by ferry.

Tradition says that Saint Margaret of Scotland established a ferry here for the pilgrims heading north to St Andrews. Indeed, after her death in 1093, the ferry was used to transport her body on its journey to Dunfermline Abbey. Then the ferry rights were awarded to the abbey by her son, David I of Scotland.

The Forth Bridge is a cantilever bridge. Its construction began in 1882, and it was opened to rail traffic on 4th March 1890.

In 1964, the nearby Forth Road Bridge opened, allowing road traffic to cross the Firth of Forth.

Because of the second bridge, the Forth Bridge is often now referred to as the Forth Rail Bridge, although that was never its official name.

Construction of the Forth Rail Bridge

The archives at the National Library of Scotland hold several important visual records showing the construction of this world famous bridge in the 1880s.

The first is an artist’s impression of the bridge yet to be started, imposing a drawing onto a photograph of the Firth of Forth. This is a full century before the invention of Photoshop!

Artist impression of the Forth Rail Bridge 1886
An artist impression of the Forth Rail Bridge before it was built, using a photograph of the Firth of Forth

Next we see the early stages of construction underway.

Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge under construction
Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge under construction, taken from Port Edgar sometime around 1886
old photo of Forth Rail Bridge Fife from Dalmeny Park 1886
Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge under construction, taken from Dalmeny Park sometime around 1886
old photo of Forth Rail Bridge Fife southeast skewback 1886
Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge in Fife under constructin, showing the southeast skewback in around 1886

We’re now so used to this iconic bridge, it can be hard to imagine how its enormous scale and towering height must have awed and amazed local residents and curious visitors.

old picture of the Forth Rail Bridge 1890
Book illustration of the South Cantilever of the Forth Rail Bridge just before completion in 1890
Old picture of the Forth Rail Bridge
Old picture of the Forth Rail Bridge, taken from the south west side in 1891
old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge 1894
Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge, taken from Queensferry’s Hawes Inn, 1894
Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge
Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge, taken from Queensferry’s Hawes Inn, 1894
From Hawes Inn Queenserry Forth Rail Bridge 1894
Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge, taken from Queensferry’s Hawes Inn, 1894

Correct Location?

These two photos, one taken in 1899 and one in 2014, look to me to be taken from the same side of the bridge. But one says it’s from the South Side, and the other says North Queensferry.

Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge
Old photo of the Forth Rail Bridge, taken from the south side in 1899
Forth Rail Bridge 2014
Photograph of the Forth Rail Bridge in 2014, taken from North Queensferry

The Forth Bridge Through Time

Enioy a video from YouTube channel The Time Travel Artist. James used old images to transform the Firth of Forth through time.

The Forth Bridge: A Journey through time.  The Time Travel Artist (YouTube)

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