Tay Bridge Disaster Anniversary

It was 134 years ago that the Tay Bridge collapsed into the river below as a train crossed killing scores of the passengers. The night was wild and stormy and wind pressure and the extra weight of the train causes the bridge to fail catastrophically.

At the time newspapers put the death toll at about 75 people, but now members of the Memorial Trust have revised that number down to 59.

This week sees the unveiling of memorial stones laid at both end of the bridge to remember the incident and the dead. The memorials on either side of the river, in Dundee and in Fife, are each are made of three pieces of granite and positioned so they face where the central span of the bridge once stood. They are inscribed with the 59 names of those who died.

At the time of the disaster the bridge was the longest railway bridge in the world.  Construction commences on 1871 using a design based around brick piers resting on the bedrock supporting a single track railway using a combination of wrought iron girders and braces with cast iron components.

The bridge was inspected by the Board of Trade in Feb 1878 and deemed fit for rail traffic up to speeds to 25 MPH. The Bridge opened for passengers in June 1879.

On the night of 28th December 1879 the wind was blowing at right angles to the bridge at speeds of around MPH. Just after 7 PM a North bound train headed onto the bridge. After about 200 yards it was at the highest point of the crossing and fell into the river as the bridge collapsed. There were no survivors.

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