Scotland has a long and illustrious past in terms of engineering. It has produced some of the world’s finest engineers and continues to lead the way in innovative and ingenious thinking as well as audacious plans. There are some sights which simply must be seen when you visit Scotland.
The Forth Bridge: The Forth Bridge connecting Fife with Edinburgh is one of the most recognisable Scottish landmarks to date. Begun in 1883 and completed in 1890 it had the title of the longest cantilever bridge in the world until 1917 when The Quebec Bridge was completed. 63 men were killed during its construction and it was the first major construction in the UK to be made from steel.
Even today it is regarded with admiration by all who encounter it…and no wonder! It is an impressive sight to behold if only due to its length (1.6 miles) and beautiful construction. The bridge requires constant maintenance and repairs and provides regular work for a crew of men. Repainting the bridge will not be necessary for some time however as it was recently repainted with a coat of paint which is predicated to last for between 25 and 40 years.
The Forth Bridge has appeared in a number of films including The 39 Steps and in a video game Grand Theft Auto and continues to be one of the world’s most admired and recognisable bridges.
The Bellrock Lighthouse: The elegant and impressive Georgian lighthouse which sits on a partially submerged reef around 11 miles off the Angus coast is the oldest partially submerged lighthouse in the world. Engineered by Robert Stevenson and built by a team of around 60 men in 1807, the lighthouse is admired all over the world for the incredible feat of engineering that it is. The masonry is the original and there has been no need to replace any of it as it was constructed to such high standards that it has passed the test of time.
At 115 feet and 10 inches tall it was made from Scottish sandstone and granite and its illumination was originally provided by oil lamps with the help of a number of reflectors. The lighthouse was automated during the 1980s and almost destroyed by fire during the process.
Today, the lighthouse remains solid and secure on its reef just as it has done for more than 200 years.
The Caledonian Canal: This canal was constructed partly as an answer to the depression which had engulfed the Highlands since the Highland Clearances and partly as a means of providing sailing ships with safe passage as they made their way from the North East of Scotland to the South West.
Begun in 1803 and completed in1822 it provided work for many Highland men and is around 60 miles long. Only a third of the canal is of man made construction as the rest utilizes Lock Dochfour. Designed by Thomas Telford, the canal has 29 locks and four aqueducts along its length.
The Falkirk Wheel: The Falkirk Wheel re-imagined travel by canal in the most ambitious and fanciful way possible and was created in order to connect two bodies of water which had not been joined together since 1933.
The Millennium Link, the project from which the Falkirk Wheel was born, cost more than eighty four million pounds and had the objective of once again allowing a passage through central Scotland via Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal which lay 35 metres above the Forth and Clyde.
There was once a series of descending locks which allowed a passageway but these were taken apart during the 1930s. What was needed was a boat lift…and with this in mind, an almost unimaginable feat of engineering was achieved as you can see if you click here.
The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s one and only rotating boat lift and was produced by the collaboration and ingenuity of a number of companies; it contains more than1, 200 tonnes of steel and the components were constructed in Derbyshire and then transported to Scotland for construction on site.
The Forth and Clyde Canal: This canal opened in 1790 and crosses central Scotland. It was a means of transport for many seagoing ships and runs from the River Forth to the River Clyde. It was closed in the 1960s and for a time, it lay derelict and abandoned. Recent interest has secured investment which has brought branches of it back to life for leisure cruises and further developments continue to be discussed.
Even the casual visitor with no prior interest in engineering can’t fail to be impressed by Scotland’s engineering triumphs and any tourist or traveller who has the chance, should take time out to enjoy the achievements of Scotland’s great engineers.
Cormac Reynolds is a lover of Scotland and also engineering and has written a number of articles on the wonders of the country often for http://www.lochsandglens.com/places-we-visit/jacobite-steam-train/ as he’s a lover of rail too.