Dundee Transport

The Tay Rail Bridge

Story of the replacement bridge to the one that was blown down from the Dundee Year Books of the 19th Century


The Tay Bridge being now completed, the following account of the building of the Bridge and of the engineers and contractors responsible for its construction will be read with interest. Besides its extraordinary length, the Bridge presents many features of uncommon interest, and as the work is one that will ever be conspicuous in the annals of engineering —to whose distinction industrial Britain owes so much—the space we have devoted to the subject will not be deemed excessive. Our

description of the work may be relied upon as authentic, having been revised by the engineers, contractors, and others haying special knowledge of the work. We are particularly indebted for assistance to Mr P. Crawford Barlow, C.E., one of the engineers for the work; Mr W. Inglis, C.E., resident engineer for the contractor; Mr Kelsey, C.E., resident engineer; Mr Caffin, C.E., assistant to Mr Kelsey; Mr A. S. Biggart, O.E., of the Forth Bridge; and Mr Thomas Thornton, solicitor in Dundee for the North British Railway Company.


With Mr Thomas Bouch originated the idea of bridging the Tay at Dundee. As Traffic Manager to the Edinburgh, Perth, and Dundee Railway Company, Mr Bouch from his experience witnessed the inconvenience and danger attendant on the working of the Tayport and Burntisland Ferries. The system was costly and clumsy, and how to obviate these two drawbacks to the successful working of his Directors railway led him to seek for a remedy. In 1854 Mr Bouch propounded his scheme of bridging the Forth and the Tay. The Directors were amazed at the boldness of the conception, and when the idea became public property, its originator was looked upon as a dreamer. Scotch caution was scared for a time. Seeing what engineers, had accomplished in the past not only in subduing the of Nature, but also in utilising them in the furtherance great undertakings, it was very disheartening to Mr Bouch that his pet scheme was so coldly received. He did not despair however, of ultimate success, so at least as the Tay Bridge was concerned. He waited with patience, and by and by the “wild dream” of 1854 began to appear in the eyes of professional men as well as the Directors and others interested in the scheme in a less fantastic light. Year after ye passed, however, and Mr Bouch had struggle on, meeting with and trying to convince pessimists from whatever quarter they came of the feasibility of his plans.


Mr Bouch was fortunate in having the thorough sympathy and active support of Mr Thomas Thornton, solicitor, Dundee and both gentlemen worked hard in bringing the Tay Bridge scheme before the public. In October 1863 the first step was taken in connection with the project, when a meeting was held in Mr Thornton’s office, at which Provost Parker and a few of the leading citizens were present. A year elapsed; and the Advertiser announced on the 18th October 1864 that the promoters intended to apply for a Bill to sanction the erection of a bridge across the Tay between Newport and the Craig Pier. At this point the Tay was to be crossed in 63 spans. At the fairway the height was to be 100 feet above the level of high water, and before the Dundee side was reached this height was reduced to between 25 and 30 feet. Instead of curving to the East the direction was to the West, and the junction with the Perth line was to take place at the East end of the Magdalen Green. This announcement caused what might be called a sensation. The Town Council and Harbour Trustees of Dundee took up an uncompromising attitude to the scheme; the Scottish Central and Scottish North Eastern Directors were anxious to prevent a rival from becoming stronger than themselves; and the Perth Town Council saw in the proposal the utter annihilation of their harbour. The Bill however, served the purpose of forcing both friends and foes to declare themselves, and it was only withdrawn after the North British Company had openly espoused the project, and with a view to a practical development of its system both on the North and South of the Tay. Accordingly in the next session of Parliament—1865-66—a second Bill was brought forward by Mr Bouch and Mr Thornton under the auspices of the North British Railway Company. This time the bridge was to be connected not with Tayport only but also with Leuchars, and it was to cross the Tay from Wormit Bay on tile South to a point considerably West of the Binns of Blackness on the North. From that point the line was to be carried to the high ground over the Dundee and Perth Railway, and running Eastward re-Crossed that line, outside of which it ran until it reached Buckingham Point. Here it re-crossed again and ran to the centre of the town through the gardens attached to the residences on the South side of the Magdalen Yard Road, the Perth Road, and Nethergate, then, crossing Sea Wynd, passed through the ground behind St Paul’s Free Church, and crossed Union Street to the South of the Thistle Hall. From there it proceeded through the then old buildings between Nethergate and Fish Street, crossed Crichton Street to the South of Mathers’ Hotel, and ran into a magnificent Central Station, within the area of which the Town House was included. From this Central Station the route Eastward was by Dock Street. It was intended to divert this street to the South by the railway, which, running Eastward, was to join the Arbroath line to the North of Camperdown Dock.

The Esplanade scheme was associated with the Tay Bridge, because station accommodation could not be got unless the solum South of the Caledonian Railway was made up. In this new Bill of 1866, the North British conceded the right of the town to the solum of the river, and thereby did away with opposition on the part of the Town promenade. All the ground made up north of the promenade was to be used for railway purposes only—the Caledonian Railway Company paying £13,000 and the North British Company £13,000 for the space occupied by them. The Harbour Trustees also contributed £13,000 towards the expenses.

This new Bill of the North British Railway Company, however, was destined not to pass. Opposition appeared on almost every hand. It was allayed by the promoters of the Bill, who offered some tempting quid pro quo to their opponents, which was generally accepted. But the scheme was too magnificent, and the shareholders of the Company began to have doubts of the practicability of carrying out the proposals in their entirety. The central station part of the scheme was ultimately dropped, much to the chagrin of owners of property on the proposed route, but this concession on the part of the Directors did not remove the doubts of the shareholders. The chief causes which led to the ultimate withdrawal of the Bill, however were (1) the amalgamation of the Caledonia and Scottish North Eastern Railways; and (2) the want of funds in the treasury of the North British Railway Company. But the promoters were not disheartened. The public opinion of Dundee had grown and that which had at the outset been derided as a vision was now regarded by the bulk of the community as both practicable and beneficial. The Dundee Advertiser never ceased to encourage and support Mr Bouch and Mr Thornton and stimulated a sustained healthy public opinion. Accordingly in 1869-70 another scheme was submitted to Parliament. The Bridge was to be thrown across the river from Wormit to Buckingham Point, the Fife connection being made by new line from Leuchars. The station was to be erected on the solum acquired by the Town Council under the Esplanade Act and as would connect it with the Bridge by a gradient of 1 in 60. With the Arbroath section of the Caledonian system the station would be connected by a tunnel crossing under South Union Street and adjoining properties, curving round the North-West corner of Earl Grey Dock, and thence passing under Dock Street, to emerge upon the Arbroath line about the east end of Victoria Dock. The Bill came before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the 17th March and from the unanimous support which the scheme received from all the witnesses the preamble of the Bill was proved and on the 15th July following the Royal Assent was given to the measure. This Bill was greatly aided and supported by Mr James Cox, Mr P.H. Thoms, Mr James Yeaman, Mr William Hay and Mr Thomas Buchan. Of Mr Cox it might be said that he showed his faith in the scheme long before others had taken a serious thought of the matter.

The Plan for the First Bridge

Although the public bodies in Dundee and elsewhere, as well as the community at large, were by this time thoroughly convinced of the practicability of bridging the Tay, there still remained a number of isolated pessimists who were continually uttering predictions of disaster and ruin to the Bridge; and, indeed, some went so far as to assure the world that it could never be erected. A look at the plans did not comfort these individuals. The extraordinary length of the Bridge—its great attenuation—made it look more slender than it really was.

A very short description of the first Tay Bridge is required. Its length was 3450 yards, and consisted of 85 spans of the following dimensions: -


Spans of


feet each







Bowstring Girders



Lattice Girders


















The piers were 85 in number, of which, the first fourteen were of brick, the remainder being formed above high-water level with tiers of cast-iron columns, bolted together vertically by bolts and nuts, and connected laterally by means of cross-bracing and struts of wrought iron. The number of columns in the group on each pier varied from three to six. Those under the largest spans were formed of six columns, bolted to base pieces which were bedded in stone. The lower portions of these piers consisted of concrete, brickwork, and masonry. At piers 28 to 41the girders were raised so that the lower booms were on a level with the upper booms of the girders on the North and South. This gave additional headway for vessels passing below the Bridge. The headway was 88 feet. The superstructure was of wrought-iron lattice girders, except one span on the Northern portion, which was crossed by bow string girders. Messrs Charles de Bergue Co., of London, &c., were accepted as the contractors by the North British Railway Company, the price to be paid that firm being £217,000, and the time specified for the completion of the Bridge three years. Owing to the illness and subsequent death of Mr Chas. de Bergue, the contract was transferred toMessrs Hopkins, Gilkes, & Co., of Middlesborough. In consequence of having to transfer the contract from one firm toanother great delay was experienced, and when the Bridge was finished it was found that instead of three years, the bridging of the Tay had occupied six years; and that the cost of the Bridge had been £350,00 instead of £217,000 —the contract price.


On the 22nd July 1871 the first stone of the Bridge was laid on the Fifeshire side, and on Tuesday, September 25,1877, six years and thirty-three days afterwards, the works had so far advanced that the Directors, engineers, and contractors were able to cross the structure in a train. This was the first train which ever crossed the Tay Viaduct. Though the works were sufficiently forward to allow of the train being run across, much required to be done to the structure before it was ready for general traffic, and it was not till the 31st May next year that the formal opening ceremony took place.

The auspicious occasion was a red-letter day in the history of Dundee. Royalty was expected to have graced the proceedings but owing to the uncertainty of the date on which the Bridge would be ready for traffic the idea was departed from. Invitations were issued to 600 gentlemen, including representatives of the authorities in the different Counties and burghs of Scotland, the head officials connected with the leading railways of the kingdom, several of the foremost commercial men in Scotland and England, and a large number of the citizens of Dundee and surrounding district. Gentlemen resident south of the Tay were conveyed to the Bridge by train from Edinburgh, while those belonging to Dundee and the North were conveyed by steamer to Tayport. On reaching Tayport a train was in waiting, and after the party had taken their seats, a start was made for Leuchars. The train from Edinburgh had arrived only a few minutes before the one from Tayport. The two trains were made into one, and the locomotive “Lochee” being attached, the journey to Dundee by new route was begun. At the South end of the Bridge a large crowd of people, principally from Newport, were in waiting to see the first train, and as it steamed on to the viaduct a hearty cheer was raised. To those in the train the view which burst upon the vision when the train rounded the hill at Wormit was magnificent. Below were the placid waters of the Tay, to the West and the North the fertile Carse of Gowrie and the hills beyond bathed in bright sunshine, to the North the busy town of Dundee, with its pall of smoke, and to the East Broughty Ferry and its old Castle standing out into river. The train moved slowly across the Bridge in order that the passengers might have the best possible view of the Tay and the landscape beyond. The Esplanade and the Magdalen Green were crowded with thousands of the inhabitants, and as the train rounded the curve and shot across the bowstring girder West of the Point the assembled crowds sent up cheer after cheer, which were responded to by those in the train waving their hats and handkerchiefs. At the station a large number of people had assembled, many of them: being ladies. A banquet was afterwards held in the Albert Hall and was attended by members of Parliament, the Lord Provosts and Provosts, Magistrates, Councillors, and Town Clerks and of many cities and towns in Scotland; the Sheriffs and Sheriff-Substitutes of Counties; railway representatives from England and Scotland, and merchants, traders, &c. Mr Jas. Cox presided and was supported right and left by the Earl of Elgin and Sir James Falshaw, Bart. Mr Stirling, Chairman of the North British Railway Company, acted as Croupier.


The Tay Bridge, opened under such happy auspices, was the wonder of the day. The people of Dundee were proud of the Bridge. For the first time in their history, they felt that they were no longer on a railway siding, but were in direct communication with the principal, towns of the kingdom. To the travelling public, too, the opening of the Bridge was a great boon. The new route took an hour off the tedious journey between Dundee and Edinburgh, and the run into Fife was accomplished in half the time formerly occupied. The excellent train service which the North British inaugurated had the effect of spurring on the Caledonian Railway Company in the direction of accelerating their trains to the South and West and compelled them to provide improved railway carriages. The goods traffic of the North British increased beyond the expectations of everyone, and the despatch which traders experienced in the delivery of goods made them feel that the hopes held out by the promoters of the Bridge had been understated. The Bridge thus formed a most important link in the East Coast route, and its success proved beyond doubt that when a similar connection was made between the shores of Fife and Linlithgow immense advantage would accrue not only to Dundee but the whole of the towns on the North-East Coast.


But disappointment was in store lor those who had formed so sanguine hopes of the utility of the Bridge. Little more than eighteen months had passed away, when there occurred a terrible calamity, the news of which was received with horror and dismay all over the kingdom. On the memorable night of Sunday, the 28th December 1879, in the midst of a fearful hurricane from the South-West, the large girders fell, carrying with them to the foaming waters beneath a train and about 90 human souls, none of whom survived to tell the tale. Happening as it did when darkness had set in, the extent of the calamity was not definitely known until next morning; but when daylight began to come thousands of eyes were directed towards the centre of the Bridge. The sight which met the eye was depressing in the extreme. The whole of the thirteen large spans had disappeared, and the broken stumps of the columns which had supported them, but which had proved insufficient when the crucial moment arrived, stood up in all their desolate loneliness, and caused a sickening feeling to come over those who gazed upon them. The storm, which had raged with so much fury on the previous night, had entirely abated, and the river was so calm and unruffled that one could hardly believe that an accident of so mournful a nature had taken place only a few hours before, and that nearly a hundred human beings had been swept into eternity without the least warning.


The appalling accident was looked upon as a national calamity. The utmost sympathy with the sufferers was expressed by the people in all parts of the country, and the Queen telegraphed to Provost Brownlee that she was inexpressibly shocked and felt most deeply for those who had lost friends and relatives in the terrible accident. An official inquiry into the circumstances attending the fall of the bridge was ordered by the Board of Trade. The Commissioners appointed were Mr Henry C. Rothery, Wreck Commissioner; Colonel W. Yolland, Chief Inspector of Railways; and Mr William H. Barlow, President or the Institute of Civil Engineers. The Commissioners at once proceeded to Dundee, and personally inspected the ruined structure. Evidence was afterwards heard by the Commissioners in the Dundee Sheriff Court. Mr John Trayner, advocate, Edinburgh, instructed by the solicitors of the Board of Trade, and Mr J. D. Grant appeared for the Board of Trade, Mr J. B. Balfour advocate, instructed by Mr Adam Johnstone and Mr. Thornton, was present on behalf of the North British Railway Company; and Mr Dunbar, Procurator Fiscal, represented the Lord-Advocate A host of witnesses were examined, chiefly to the facts and circumstances attending the fall of the Bridge, and the inquiry was adjourned from 6th January to 26th February. When the inquiry was resumed, evidence was led as to alleged undue speed of trains upon the Bridge, and to facts in connection with the erection of the structure. The Commissioners sat nine days altogether in Dundee, and adjourned to meet at Westminster on the 19th April, to hear the scientific evidence and to ascertain from experts the effects of wind pressure, &c. In addition to the counsel already mentioned there appeared at Westminster Mr Webster Q.C. and Mr Macrory for the contractors, Messrs Hopkins, Gilkes & Co, and Mr Bidder on behalf of Sir Thomas Bouch. The inquiry, including the sederunts in Dundee lasted twenty-five days, and was considered one of the most searching and exhausting investigations ever conducted in this country.


Six weeks after the close of the inquiry the Commissioners submitted their report to the Board of Trade. They reported that no evidence had been given to show that there had been any movement or settlement in the foundations of the piers. The wrought-iron had been proved to be of fair quality, while the cast-iron had also been fairly good though sluggish in melting. For the work they had to do, the girders, in the Commissioners’ opinion, were fairly proportioned But the iron columns, though sufficient to support the vertical weight of the girders and train, had been, owing to the weakness of the cross bracing and its fastenings, unfit to resist the lateral pressure of the wind. There had been imperfections in the work turned out at the Wormit Foundry and these were due in great part to want of proper oversight. The Commissioners were not satisfied with the supervision of the bridge after its completion, and they were of opinion that if by the loosening of the tie-bars the columns got out of shape, the mere introduction of picking pieces between the jibs and cotters, which had been spoken to by witnesses, would not bring the tuning the columns back to their positions. It had been proved that trains were frequently run through the high girders at a much higher rate than that sanctioned by the Board of Trade, viz., 25 miles an hour. After careful consideration, they came to the Conclusion that the fall of the Bridge had been probably due to the giving way of the cross bracing and its fastenings, and that the imperfections in the columns might also have contributed to the same result.


After the fall of the Bridge very little time was lost by the Directors of the North British Railway Company in preparing plans for its reconstruction. Scarcely six months elapsed from the time of the calamity before the North British Railway (Tay Bridge) Bill was brought before Parliament. On the 8th July 1880 it was ordered to be read a second time and committed to a Special Committee of seven members. The members of Committee were — Nominated by the House, Mr Joseph Pease, Mr W. L. Jackson, Mr Stuart Rendel and Sir William Palliser; added by the Committee of Selection, Sir Massey Lopes, Mr John Cross, and Mr Stafford Howard. Sir Massey Lopes was appointed Chairman. On Tuesday, 20th July, the Committee sat for the first time to take evidence. The counsel present were—Sir Edmund Beckett, Q.C.; Mr. Clerk, Q.C.; Mr Pope, Q.C.; and Mr Ledgard, instructed by Mr Adam Johnstone and Mr Thomas Thornton, solicitors, for the promotors; and Mr Michael, Q.C., for the Board of Trade.

The Chairman, in opening the inquiry, said the Committee felt that the question was one of more than usual responsibility, and therefore he thought it very desirable that they should direct the special attention counsel to the order of reference, and to request them to satisfy the Committee on the following points(1) The expediency of re-building the Bridge in its present position; (2) whether there was any more suitable site; (3) the interest of the navigation; and (4) the security for the permanent safety of any bridge if authorised. In asking the Committee to pass the Bill the promoters would have to satisfy members on these four points.


The first time that the question of bridging the Forth and the Tay was brought before Parliament was in 1865, when certain great schemes of amalgamation between the East Coast and West Coast routes were being considered by Parliamentary Committees. The Caledonian Railway Company acquired the Scottish Central line from Greenhill and Larbert to Perth and Dundee, and the North British became the owners of the Edinburgh and Glasgow line. Both Companies had also Bills approved in the same session for the extension of their systems. The North British Company received powers to bridge the Forth and the Tay, and the Caledonian Company were empowered to construct a new line from Edinburgh and Glasgow. One of the stipulations between the two Companies in regard to these schemes of amalgamation and construction of new lines was that if the North British Company did not proceed with the construction of the two Bridges that session, the Caledonian Company were bound not to oppose the building of them in any other session. Fire years elapsed, however, before the North British Company had overcome the opposition of the local bodies in Dundee to the Tay Bridge scheme, and it was not till 1870 that the Company were in a position, financially and otherwise, to introduce their Bill. The old route from Edinburgh to Dundee was very inconvenient. Starting from Edinburgh, the Company’s trains ran to Granton on rails; then there was a ferry of five miles to Burntisland; from Burntisland to Tayport there were rails; from Tayport to Broughty there was another ferry; and from Broughty to Dundee the Company had to run upon part of the Caledonian system. The ferries being so near the sea they were very much exposed. Very strong currants were experienced at both places; the steamers could not be steered straight across either estuary and the utmost care had to be taken in navigating the vessels. Consequently, not only did delays occur, but passengers were exposed to sat discomfort and inconvenience.


The opening up of the Tay Bridge route put Dundee and towns to the North of it in direct communication with the County of Fife and the South. By the direct route the principal towns in Fife were accommodated and the contemplated line between St Andrews and Anstruther (which has since an opened) would place the coast towns in almost direct communication with the towns the East Coast North of Dundee. Another condition of the arrangement come to between the Companies in 1865 was that the line between Dundee and Arbroath would become a joint property (as it has since become), and the North British Company, by constructing a connecting line between Arbroath and Dubton and exercising their running powers over the Caledonian system thence to Aberdeen, opened up a direct route to the Granite City. The Company also made a tunnel at Dundee connecting the Joint Railway with the Tay Bridge Railway and were thereby abled to run a train direct from Aberdeen to Burntisland. The advantages of the Tay Bridge route after it was opened were not long in being observed and appreciated. The first effect of its opening was that it shortened the time of the journey between Dundee and Edinburgh by over an hour, and from Aberdeen to Edinburgh by two hours and several minutes. For the first time in the history of railway travelling between the two cities, it became possible for a gentleman to leave Aberdeen in the morning, travel to Edinburgh, transact business for a few hours, and turn home in the evening at a not very late hour. To the Company the opening of the Bridge and the lines in connection was source of


Mr John Walker, Manager of the North British Company, who had been the steady and powerful advocate of the Tay Bridge undertaking from its first inception, mentioned some interesting facts on this point. At the time the first Bridge fell the Company were carrying 84 per cent of the Edinburgh-Dundee traffic and 59 per cent, of the Edinburgh-Aberdeen traffic. Immediately on the opening of the Bridge the passenger traffic between Fife and Dundee doubled itself, and the season tickets increased nearly 100 per cent. In Dundee they had in six months an increase of 4000 parcelsand the goods and mineral traffic increased 40 per cent. By getting rid of the Ferry at Tayport the Company were in a position to deliver goods and minerals with greater punctuality and despatch, as it often happened in stormy weather that whole train loads of goods had on arrival at the latter place to be taken back and sent by way of Ladybank, Perth, Forfar, and Arbroath. To Dundee.


The running of trains across the Tay Bridge practically converted Newport and Tayport into suburbs of Dundee. A great improvement followed its erection in the feuing of ground on the Fife shore. Owners of land immediately set about having feuing plans prepared of their estates from Newport Westwards, and one witness mentioned that if the Bridge had remained standing the whole distance from Tayport to Balmerino would in the course of a few years have been dotted with villas. The rate of feuing in Newport went up in anticipation of the opening of the Bridge, and after it was completed feuing was carried on extensively. The result was, of course, ap increase in the value of land in and around Newport.


Mr Walker, General Manager of the North British Railway Company, gave it as his opinion that no more suitable site could be had than the one on which the old Bridge stood. It put important towns such as Cupar Fife and St Andrews in direct communication with Dundee. Then Newport and Tayport, where many of the Dundee businessmen resided, would be placed within easy distance of the town. Between the towns and suburbs mentioned there was a very large interchange of traffic indeed, and it was of importance that the railway communication should be as direct as possible. The Bridge, he stated, could not be placed further down the river. The local witnesses examined, including Mr Frank Henderson, M.P., Provost Brownlee, Mr John Leng, Editor of the Dundee Advertiser; Mr Alexander Moncur, afterwards Provost of Dundee; and Mr Hay, Town Clerk, were all of the opinion that the new bridge should be constructed on the old site.


A table submitted by Mr George Taylor, Pilot-Master, Dundee, showed that of the 103 vessels which arrived at Perth and Newburgh during the year 1879, 47 were vessels of and under 75 tons, 35 were vessels of 76 and not exceeding 100 tons, 12 were vessels of 101 and not exceeding 150 tons, 6 were vessels of 151 and not exceeding 200 tons, 1 was of 216 tons burthen, 1 was of 254 tons, and 1 of 307 tons. Only 1 vessel had masts 100 feet in height, and 4 of them would have had to lower their topmasts. All the measurements were taken at high-water mark, however, so that the difference between that and the load-line of the vessels had also to be taken into account. It was thus shown that very few ships which sailed to Newburgh and Perth would require to strike their masts to get through below the Bridge. Indeed, were the vessels to sail through at dead low water, none of them would require to strike their masts. At half-tide there would be 85 feet between the water and the lower booms of the girders, so that a schooner of 100 tons would not require to take down her masts at all; and a brig of 200 tons would only, require to lower the topgallant mast, which was not a difficult operation. Evidence was also led as to the shifting of the banks and navigable channels of the river above and below the Bridge, but there was absolutely no proof of changes being attributable to the Bridge piers.


Mr James Brunlees, C.E., submitted plans for the reconstruction of the Bridge. His proposals may be briefly summed up as follows: - He was to double the piers of the ></spanBridge by sinking a cylinder on the East side of each of the old piers, to carry up new cylinder above high-water mark, there to connect the old and the new with arched brickwork. On this saddle he proposed to build a brick column sufficiently wide to carry two sets of girders and a double line of rails. A wider basis than in the case of the old Bridge would by this means be obtained, and the strength of the structure to resist lateral pressure would be materially increased. A height of 77 feet instead of 88 feet from high-water mark to the lower boom of the girders was to be provided in the case of four of the spans over the fairway. On the other portions of the Bridge Mr Brunlees proposed that the permanent way should be laid on the upper booms of the girders. The width of the spans at the fairway was to be 245 feet. The new caissons were to be the same size as those of the old Bridge, and there were to be 10 feet between the two. Mr Brunlees proposed to erect bow-string girders 20 feet high over the fairway. By adopting this pattern of girder he considered he would get much less exposure to the and morelateral stiffness than in the girders which had fallen from the first Bridge. The girders were to be double, and were to be capable of resisting 200 lbs. to the square foot of windpressure, while the piers as designed were to be capable of resisting a pressure of 900 lbs per square foot. The work of reconstruction he proposed to carry out at a total cost of £356,323.


A number of skilled witnesses were a: wards examined for and against the proposals of Mr Brunlees, and a searching investigation was made by the Committee with reference to the condition of the piers of the old Bridge, the state of the river bed, and the constituents of the substrata. Mr Michael Q.C., who appeared for the Board of Trade, conducted his cross-examination of the witnesses with marked ability. At the close of the evidence he addressed the Committee and he had not proceeded far when it that the Bill was in jeopardy. From evidence, he said, they were able to show conclusively that the bridge in the public interests should be constructed over as nearly as possible the site of the old one and they might further say that as concerning navigation the plan of the promoters was sufficient to protect the interests of all parties in the estuary. He thought, however, that before any of the details, or indeed the principle of the work was finally determined, the Committee should take the responsibility of nominating three eminent engineers to whom the plans should be referred. The Board of Trade, in the event of a favourable report, would give their assent to the reconstruction. He had not a word to say against Mr Brunlees, but he had to say that the matter had not obtained the consideration it deserved. What it was proposed to do was to join the old work with the new — to make what he ventured to call an unholy alliance — a marriage in haste to be repented of at leisure; and as he represented the Board of Trade he was there to forbid the banns.


Mr Clerk, for the promoters, made an able reply, but he failed to remove the bad impression which Mr Michaels’ speech had created in the minds of the members of the Committee. The Chairman delivered judgment as follows: —

“We have very anxiously considered this matter, because we are fully aware that it involves more than ordinary responsibility. There are four questions which have been referred to the committee, and I will deal with them separately. The first question is whether it is expedient to re-build the Bridge. We are unanimously of opinion that it is expedient that the Bridge should be reconstructed. The second question is whether the proposed site is the most suitable site for the Bridge. We are of opinion that the site proposed is the most suitable for the Bridge. The third question is whether there will be any due interference with the navigation. We think there will be no undue interference with the navigation. The fourth question, which is, after all, the most important of all the matters which have been referred to us, namely, the safety and security of the public, we have most carefully and anxiously considered, and we do not feel justified in sanctioning the scheme proposed by the promoters of this Bill. I may add that, of course, the Committee will report to the House of Commons, and then they will then go more into detail and probably give their reasons with reference to the decision at which they have arrived; but this decision is a unanimous one.”

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Iain D. McIntosh, Friends of Dundee City Archives

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