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Tay Railway Bridge

Dundee Railway Bridge

Tay Railway Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 15, 2018

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Network Rail) Over River Tay
Location
Dundee and Wormit: Dundee, Scotland: United Kingdom
Structure Type
Metal 19 Panel Rivet-Connected Bowstring Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Rivet-Connected Double-Intersection Warren Deck Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1887 By Builder/Contractor: Sir William Arrol and Company of Glasgow, Scotland and Engineer/Design: WH Barlow and Son of London, England (William Henry Barlow)

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2003
Main Span Length
245 Feet (75 Meters)
Structure Length
10,711 Feet (3,265 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
Spans
13 Main Span(s) and 76 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

The railway crossing over River Tay at Dundee is one of the most infamous crossings in the United Kingdom because the previous bridge at this location collapsed, causing total loss of life of a train on the bridge at the time of the collapse. This bridge is the structure which replaced that ill-fated bridge. This replacement bridge has a much more positive history, and is today a very important historic bridge, due to its incredible length. Environment Scotland even suggests this may be the longest wrought iron bridge in the world!

The bridge consists of a variety of spans. The wrought iron spans come in a variety of forms as follows. From north to south, there are deck truss spans that later (meaning not original to this bridge) had unusual inverted bowstring trusses cantilevered off the edges of them to provide room for a station. Next, there are two beautiful deck arch spans over the road. The river spans follow, starting with "short" deck truss spans of about 70 feet each. Closer to the center of the bridge the short deck truss spans give way to longer deck truss spans, of 129 feet each, leading to the main through truss bowstring spans, which include lengths of 245 and 227 feet. The south end of the bridge has more deck truss spans, lengths from 129 and 145 feet. The northern portion of this bridge features a sweeping curve.

The deck truss spans of this bridge consist of the outer truss lines being salvaged and reused from the first, collapsed bridge, with an additional two truss lines added to the interior when this bridge was constructed. Thus, some parts of this bridge in fact date to 1878.

The inverted bowstring spans, shown above, have Hallside on the lower chord. However, since these spans are additions to the original bridge, there may have been additional mills which supplied materials for this bridge, but this was the span close enough for inspecting.

Above: The arch spans feature a different paint scheme.

Above: Photo showing the collapse of the previous bridge.

Above: Photo showing the collapse of the previous bridge.

Above: William Henry Barlow

Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings

Listed At: Category A

Discussion:

Historic Environment Scotland Number: LB25681

Canmore ID: 31692

Site Number: NO32NE 11

Description
William Henry Barlow, 1882-87, incorporating parts of the first Tay Bridge by Sir Thomas Bouch, 1871-7. Contractors for the first bridge were Charles de Bergue and Co and Hopkinson Gilkes and Co; and for the second, William Arrol and Co. Railway viaduct principally of wrought-iron. Listing covers the full 10,711-feet (3.264km) length of the bridge, including brick viaducts at Newport and Dundee ends and the downstream piers of the first bridge. From S to N.

a) WORMIT: 4 brick arches and piers, 50' spans, widening to S for diversion of lines to Newport and Edinburgh.

b) SOUTH APPROACH, piers 4-28 are twin wrought-iron cylinders lined with brickwork and filled with concrete below water level. Connecting tie of cast and wrought-iron, brick and concrete at high water level. Hollow superstructure of octagonal wrought-iron plate piers linked by an arch. Girders spanning 129 and 145 feet, arranged in 4s, Barlow's 2 new girders sandwiched between Bouch's re-used girders. Both types are of double-triangular wrought-iron. Corrugated-iron and steel decking. Wrought-iron lattice parapet with wooden rail.

c) NAVIGATION SPANS, 13 spans of 245 and 227 feet, on a similar substructure to that of the South Approach. Parabolic hog-backed girders (all by Arrol), above track level give a clearance for ships of 77 feet. Cast-iron segmental arches on cast-iron piers with dated plaques at entrances to navigation sections.

d) NORTH APPROACH, gradient falling towards Dundee, has 37 spans, Nos 42-53 similar to the South Approach. Nos 54-77 curve towards the station, having narrower spans on trabeated cast-iron piers filled with brick and concrete.

e) ESPLANADE SECTION, piers 78-85: 2 wrought-iron skew arches on brick piers over Riverside Drive, then 4 spans of wrought-iron girders on cast-iron columns, grouped in 4s. Later fish-bellied girders cantilevered out to carry station platform.

f) BR DIVISION CIVIL ENGINEER, TAYBRIDGE, OFFICE AND WORKSHOPS (excluding modern building at track level), late 19th century, in place of 100-foot hog-backed girder over original Esplanade. 3 wide arches, red brick with yellow brick bands to N and S elevations. Wrought-iron footbridge on cast-iron columns approaches pedestrian subway.

g) VIADUCT of original bridge inclines to ground level on 34 arches and a ramp. W-most arch has a parapet.

Statement of Special Interest
The longest bridge in Britain and perhaps the biggest wrought-iron structure in the world. The high girders of the first bridge blew down on 28.12.1879.

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Tay Railway Bridge

 
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Structure Overview
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A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
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Structure Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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Maps and Links: Tay Railway Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
56.437369,-2.987974

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