World Heritage Site, awarded 2015.

3 in one for WHS

The Forth Bridge has become the sixth Scottish landmark to be awarded Unesco World Heritage Site status.

The decision was announced at a meeting in the German city of Bonn after the UN’s cultural committee spent more than a year considering its nomination.

World heritage status is given to sites of “outstanding universal value” with the aim of protecting them for future generations.

The distinctive red bridge has carried trains over the Forth since 1890.

Scotland’s other World Heritage Sites are New Lanark, St Kilda, the Old and New Towns in Edinburgh, Neolithic Orkney and the Antonine Wall.

The award puts it alongside the Pyramids of Egypt, the great Wall of China and the Sydney Opera House in terms of cultural significance.

The bridge, which spans the Firth of Forth between South Queensferry , 5 miles north west of Edinburgh and North Queensferry in Fife, was opened in 1890 after eight years of construction.

Supporters of the World Heritage Status bid have described the bridge as a masterpiece of human creative genius.

Designed by Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker, it measures 2,529m (1.5 miles), weighs 53,000 tonnes and was at the time the world’s longest multi-span cantilever bridge.

When it was constructed it was one of the most ambitious projects of its kind ever attempted, and at its peak, more than 4,500 men were employed building it.

The Unesco inspection report stated: “This enormous structure, with its distinctive industrial aesthetic and striking red colour, was conceived and built using advanced civil engineering design principles and construction methods.

“Innovative in design, materials and scale, the Forth Bridge is an extraordinary and impressive milestone in bridge design and construction during the period when railways came to dominate long-distance land travel.

 

Unesco World Heritage Statement.

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Forth Bridge, which spans the estuary (Firth) of the River Forth in eastern Scotland to link Fife to Edinburgh by railway, was the world’s earliest great multispan cantilever bridge, and at 2,529 m remains one of the longest. It opened in 1890 and continues to operate as an important passenger and freight rail bridge. This enormous structure, with its distinctive industrial aesthetic and striking red colour, was conceived and built using advanced civil engineering design principles and construction methods. Innovative in design, materials, and scale, the Forth Bridge is an extraordinary and impressive milestone in bridge design and construction during the period when railways came to dominate long-distance land travel.

This large-scale engineering work’s appearance is the result of a forthright, unadorned display of its structural elements. It is comprised of about 54,000 tons of mild steel plate rolled and riveted into 4m diameter tubes used in compression, and lighter steel spans used in tension. The use of mild steel, a relatively new material in the 1880s, on such a large-scale project was innovative, and helped to bolster its reputation. The superstructure of the bridge takes the form of three double-cantilever towers rising 110 m above their granite pier foundations, with cantilever arms to each side. The cantilever arms each project 207 m from the towers and are linked together by two suspended spans, each 107 m long. The resulting 521-m spans formed by the three towers were individually the longest in the world for 28 years, and remain collectively the longest in a multi-span cantilever bridge. The Forth Bridge is the culmination of its typology, scarcely repeated but widely admired as an engineering wonder of the world.

Criterion (i): The Forth Bridge is a masterpiece of creative genius because of its distinctive industrial aesthetic, which is the result of a forthright, unadorned display of its massive, functional structural elements.

Criterion (iv): The Forth Bridge is an extraordinary and impressive milestone in the evolution of bridge design and construction during the period when railways came to dominate long-distance land travel, innovative in its concept, its use of mild steel, and its enormous scale.

Integrity

The property contains all the elements necessary to express the Outstanding Universal Value of The Forth Bridge, including granite piers and steel superstructure. The 7.5-ha property is of adequate size to ensure the complete representation of the features and processes that convey the property’s significance, and it does not suffer from adverse effects of development or neglect.

Authenticity

The Forth Bridge is fully authentic in form and design, which are virtually unaltered; materials and substance, which have undergone only minimal changes; and use and function, which have continued as originally intended. The links between the Outstanding Universal Value of the bridge and its attributes are therefore truthfully expressed, and the attributes fully convey the value of the property.

Protection and management requirements

The Forth Bridge is listed at Category ‘A’ as a building of special architectural or historic interest, giving the property the highest level of statutory protection. Its immediate surroundings are also protected by means of a suite of cultural and natural heritage designations. Owned by Network Rail Limited, the property will be managed in accordance with a Property Management Plan by the bodies that have a statutory planning function. The Forth Bridges Forum partnership has been established to ensure that local stakeholders’ interests remain at the core of the management of the Forth bridges.

Specific long-term expectations related to key issues include maintenance of strong community support, broadening understanding in the context of world bridges, attention to developments within key views, risk management, and inspiring others.

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