Forth Bridge celebrates being 125 years young


The Forth Bridge celebrated its 125th anniversary this week with an event recalling one of the most dramatic days in the life of the iconic Scottish landmark - when it was plunged centre stage in a second world war air battle.

The ‘Forth Bridge Raid' took place on October 16 1939, a few months before the bridge’s 50th anniversary and took British air defence completely by surprise.

Just six weeks into World War II, the Forth Bridge Raid was the first air attack over Britain and involved a fleet of nine German planes.

The mission was aimed at the Royal Navy fleet and base at Rosyth rather than the bridge itself, but many passengers on a train crossing at the time understandably thought otherwise.

The anniversary celebrations on Wednesday called in a Spitfire and Typhoon for a flypast over the bridge, just as on the day itself Spitfires were quickly scrambled and managed to shoot down three planes - the first of the war to be brought down over Britain.

Local anti-air-raid gunners engaged in a training exercise had to quickly switch their dummy ammunition for live as they fought to protect the Royal Navy base.

David Dickson, route managing director, Network Rail, said the Forth Bridge Raid was 'a dramatic example' of the colourful history of the great structure.

'A huge amount of information has been written and recorded about the construction of the bridge prior to 1890 but we'd love to do more during the bridge's 125th year to remember the contribution made to maintaining the bridge in the intervening years,' he added.

Local children will hear from Ed Thomson, who witnessed the air battle from a train, Mark Taylor, who curates an exhibition about the raid in Queensferry Museum, and Dr Miles Oglethorpe from Historic Scotland.

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