With the Forth Road Bridge celebrating it's 50th birthday this month, let's look at the Queensferry Crossing's more established neighbours - two of the most iconic bridges in the world.The Forth Bridge
It is believed a permanent bridge across the Forth was first considered by the Romans. At the beginning of the 19th century, a tunnel from South Queensferry to Rosyth was considered but, at a cost of £160,000, it was soon abandoned for economic reasons rather than any doubts about its feasibility.
In 1818, a bold proposal for a suspension bridge was put forward. With some justification, this ambitious design was later judged to have been so fragile that "on a dull day it would be hardly visible and, after a heavy gale, no longer to be seen on a clear day either" (William Westhofen, "The Forth Bridge", 1890). Construction work never got underway.
With the development of steam power during the century, railways became the main transport carrier across the country and it became clear that a rail bridge was what was required. The pioneering Victorians, always ready for an engineering challenge, were just the people to deliver it.
A railway crossing of sorts first operated across the Forth using the Granton to Burntisland ferry installed by Thomas Bouch in 1850. This operated until the Forth Bridge was opened in 1890. Bouch, one of the most famous civil engineers of his generation, also came up with a design for a suspension railway bridge at Queensferry. Construction work began - part of a support pier can still be seen at Inchgarvie - but was abandoned in the wake of the collapse of the Tay Bridge in 1879 - of which Bouch was also Chief Engineer.
Often referred to as the "Queen of Victorian bridges", and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015, the Forth Bridge represents the pinnacle of 19th century civil engineering prowess and is one of the world's most recognisable engineering wonders. It perfectly reflects the "great age of steam" in which it was designed and built - and is still, of course, a vital element in Scotland's rail network today.
There are many myths and legends which surround the oldest of the Forth Bridges however the most famous is that the bridge is being continually repainted. In 2011 this myth was finally debunked as restoration works ended marking the first time the entire structure had been repainted in its history. With an expected lifetime of 20-25 years, there is no need for the painters to be back in place just yet. And just in case you were curious, the paint name of the iconic colour is now officially known as "Forth Bridge Red".Forth Road Bridge
When the Forth Road Bridge opened in September 1964, it was one of the most impressive feats of engineering of the age - just as its neighbour, the Forth Bridge, had been 74 years earlier.
Finally replacing the ferries which had plied the route for 900 years, the bridge represents the technological advances made by the mid 20th century in response to the burgeoning age of the motor car. On opening, the bridge was the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world, the first long-span suspension bridge in the UK and the longest in Europe.
In the 1960s, around 4 million vehicles used the bridge to travel over the Forth Estuary every year. Today, this figure is closer to 24 million, an increase of almost 500% - far higher than the national average traffic growth - with approximately 70,000 vehicles crossing the bridge every day. Such volume of traffic would have been unimaginable over 50 years ago when the bridge was under construction.
The Forth Road Bridge was designated a Category A listed structure in March 2001.