Tay Bridge Disaster


Tay Railway Bridge
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Tay Railway Bridge

In a fierce winter storm on the 28th December 1879, the Tay Bridge, which was completed only 19 months previously, collapses killing 75 passengers and crew of the train which was crossing at the time. An enquiry revealed that corners had been cut during construction to reduce costs and its designer Sir Thomas Bouch (1822-90) is disgraced. The disaster led to a re-evaluation of various bridge designs, most notably of what was being proposed for the Firth of Forth resulting in the massively engineered structure we see today. The Tay Bridge was itself replaced in 1887. The locomotive which plunged with the bridge was recovered, restored and, with the nickname "the diver", crossed the bridge on many more occasions until it was finally withdrawn from service in 1908.

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